April 2014
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Friendship enriches life, and good friends are good for our health.  Many studies show that friendship can increase our pain threshold, stave off cognitive decline, and even enhance the immune system.  For example, the now famous Nurses’ Health Study revealed that women who had ten or more friends were three times as likely to survive breast cancer.

This study also revealed that the more friends women have, the less likely they are to develop physical impairments as they age.  And they are more likely to lead a joyful life.  Women’s friendships may be a significant factor in their longevity.

In a landmark UCLA study, Drs. Klein and Taylor showed that men and women respond differently to stress.  Their work demonstrated that women ‘tend and befriend’ rather than ‘fight or flee’. 

Study after study reveals that social ties reduce our risk of disease, can lower blood pressure, contribute to lowered cholesterol and reduced heart rates.

Maria Paul writes in The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making, and Keeping Friends When You Are Not A Kid Anymore,”Your friendship menu needs a range of both intimates and acquaintances.” Casual friendships and deeply intimate friendships are both important and valuable  to our overall health and well-being.

To have good friends, you need to be a good friend.  Good friends have meaning to each other.  Our BFF’s are the ones we can bare our souls with, cry and laugh together, support and mirror, give honest feedback to, and, be open to receiving the same in kind.  They are people we trust with our secrets, our lives and our hearts.  This does not happen by fiat.

Cultivating a gorgeous garden of friendship requires being willing to stick our neck out; to take risks. Weed out what is not working, and allow the seeds and plants of good friendship to grow strong, healthy and beautiful.

I invite you this week to give thanks for your circle of acquaintances and friends.  And continue cultivating your Friendship Garden.


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