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The Importance of Friends

Friends help you celebrate good times and are there for you when times get rough. Friends help prevent loneliness and can be great companions. But did you know that having friends around you helps keep you healthy? According to the Mayo Clinic, friends can:

  • Increase your sense of belonging and purpose

  • Boost your happiness

  • Reduce stress

  • Improve your self-worth

  • Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one

  • Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise

In this month’s feature article, guest author Teresa D. Cochran talks about friends and finding your people.


by Teresa D. Cochran

Through the years you will meet and have friends from elementary, junior high, high school, college, work, and other social situations. If you notice, most people grow and evolve over time and their friendships and social circles change over the years. So who you were as a person and a friend when you where, let’s say, 15 is not the person who you are at 25, 35, or even 45. We all evolve at a different pace and different levels over our lifetime. Some of us would prefer not to evolve at all. You have the growers and evolvers and then you have the, I just want everything to stay the samers. So with that said, it’s all about finding your people in life.

Who makes you feel comfortable, accepted, cool no matter what you say or do? That you’re not weird or made fun of for the way you think. Who makes you feel like you? Those are your people. So how do you find your people in life? Most people start out in school as children making friends with their classmates and the other children in the neighborhood. Over time we lose those friends to changing class schedules, their families move away, or they grow and evolve into a new social circle that doesn’t include you or vice versa.

Then, as you grow into your 20s and 30s you meet new friends and friends of their friends, and so on, creating your own new social circle. This is the time that you will start to realize whether you are a grower and evolver or a, I just want everything to stay the samer. Whoever you are it’s okay. You can find your people. All you have to do is follow your interests, your instincts, and your heart.

How do you follow your interests, your instincts, and your heart? It’s not easy for everyone. Some people find themselves and their people early on in life. They’re done. They have their social circle and it’s not going anywhere. They have friends for life. Whatever their mutual interests are they found it early on. For others, friends will come and go out of their lives over the years. When this happens you can choose to see it as some people, like your family, are meant to be in your life for your entire life. Friends who come and go mean you are a person who is evolving and growing toward others who have the same interests, likes, and dislikes.

If you are not sure how to take the first step toward putting yourself out there and meeting knew people, pursue your interests by going to social gatherings that share your likes or dislikes. You can attend with a current friend or family member, or you can brave it and go by yourself. Who knows you may even enjoy yourself, and put your cell phone away. You’re not going to make eye contact or meet any new people with your face looking down at your phone the entire time.

While there, use your instincts to determine if you feel comfortable and accepted at those social gatherings. I know for some it’s easier said than done. Some people are not joiners. I’m not even a joiner. I’m not suggesting that you go out and get yourself committed to an interest that requires more time or money than you want or even can put into it. It’s all about your comfort level. Just going to a new social gathering once is stepping out of the box and putting yourself in a new situation to potentially meet new people that like what you like.

Follow your heart to make your decision on whether that social gathering is something you would like to attend again. If you are a grower and evolver you might prefer to keep going to changing venues and events to increase your social circle. If you are a I just want everything to stay the samer, maybe you would prefer to find one social gathering that meets often and you could attend only those gatherings to keep your social circle small. Attend those gatherings and just enjoy your interests. The social interaction will come naturally.

There is a saying that some people are only meant to come into your life for the period of time that they are meant to be in your life. Research shows that most people can only retain 7 to 9 close social friends at a time. So think about it. You can’t keep every friend you’ve ever met in your life from childhood. If you did that you would run out of slots and then think about all of the wonderful new people that might want to come into your life that you would not have space for.

You will make new and different friends over the years. Some who may influence your likes and dislikes. Sometimes, it’s the luck of the draw or what I like to call fate. Sometimes, you’re lucky enough to sit in a cubicle in your office and end up with the most amazing friend in the world sitting next to you. Someone who has the same interests, likes, and dislikes. Someone who makes you feel like you. How do you think that happens? It’s called fate. Then, being friends with that person leads you to new and extended social circles where everyone there has similar interests and likes.

So you find yourself standing at a party at 41 years old realizing, I have just found my people. It doesn’t matter how long the journey takes as long as you get there. We all have a different journey. Some people find their comfortable place early in life. Others, it takes years. It doesn’t matter whether you like things to stay the same or if you like to spread your wings and fly. It’s all about finding your own comfort zone. You decide. When you find those people in your life that accept you for who you are and embrace it, those are your people.

Yours in good health,

Dr. Robert Koch

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