Friendships and happiness

7 11 2014

Like many other important relationships, friendships also tend to relate to greater happiness. Studies have found that friendships are strongly associated with happiness. It is important to note that both quality and quantity of friendships matter. Like all associations, it may be difficult to determine whether friendships lead to more happiness or happy people tend to make more and better friendships but some studies have suggested that the former is more likely.

Some of the many benefits of friendships include:

  • Practical help
  • Emotional support
  • Confiding or sharing as coping
  • The tendency toward friendship counteracts the responses of stress.

Scientists define the tangible and intangible benefits we get from our web of contacts, coworkers, friendships, family, and more as ‘Social Capital’. We need to work on building this capital for our own happiness. We all have strong ties and weak ties. Strong ties constitute close relations, best friends, partners, family etc. Weak ties are our acquaintances, either online or offline, professional networks and the like. Both strong and weak ties are essential and contribute to our social capital. Social capital is a fluid and we need to nurture it continually.  By setting the priorities right, we can avoid getting overwhelmed by having to maintain all of our ties.

In today’s diverse society, it is important to have egalitarian attitude because it makes interaction with people from other groups less stressful. As such, cross-group bonds play an important role in our happiness and health.

So, make time and reach out for your friends. You can only be so much happy in your life without them.

Part 7 of Science of Happiness series.

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4     Part 5    Part 6