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The Health Benefits Of True Friendship

The Health Benefits Of True Friendship

I recently went to the monthly Finding Meaning in Medicine group I attend with Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen and a few other awesome physicians who gather together to remind each other why we are in service and who we are. Each month, we choose a topic to discuss. The topic was FRIENDSHIP.

One person brought this to share.

The Definition of A True Friend

  • The tendency to desire what is best for the other
  • Sympathy and empathy
  • Honesty, perhaps in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth, especially in terms of pointing out the perceived faults of one’s counterpart
  • Mutual understanding and compassion; ability to go to each other for emotional support
  • Enjoyment of each other’s company
  • Trust in one another
  • Positive reciprocity ó a relationship is based on equal give and take between the two parties
  • The ability to be oneself, express one’s feelings and make mistakes without fear of judgment

The Health Benefits Of Friendship

It made me consider my friendships and whether Iím as good a friend as I could be. We all know that feeling connected to those you love and having intimate friendship leads to a happier life. But did you know it also makes you healthier?

While writing this book, Iíve realized that I have to expand the definition of health. Itís not enough to just eat your veggies, move your body, get enough sleep, and follow doctorís orders. Many other factors contribute to your overall health, and friendship is one of them.

The research Iím doing for my book†Mind Over Medicine shows that people with a close network of friends live longer, have healthier brains, survive breast cancer better, survive heart disease better, and get less colds.

But how many of us really think about our friendships when we consider what it means to be healthy?

A Friendship Practice

In my line of work as a blogger, social media junkie, public speaker, and doctor, I communicate with as many as hundreds of people every day. Some of these people are already friends. Some become friends. And some are people Iíve never met and probably never will. It really blurs the line for me regarding who my true friends really are, and I worry that sometimes I spend so much time interacting with (and genuinely loving) strangers that I fail to be as present as I want to be with my true friends.

When my friends need something, Iíll drop everything for them. But when they donít write or call, I have to admit that sometimes I get so busy they slip my mind, and months – sometimes even years – can go by without any communication.

I wanted to change this.

So Iíve started a friendship practice to help me be more mindful of the friends I really love, my inner circle posse of awesome. I wrote all their names on a list and placed the list on my altar, where I meditate every day, so every day I will think of these people at least once. Iím hoping that focusing my attention on those I love will help me be a better friend. Maybe itíll even help my friends feel more loved, connected, and healthy.

As a wise, unnamed person once said, ďA friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.Ē

I want to know the songs in the hearts of those I love.

Are You A Good Friend?

Are you there for the friends in your life? Do you feel comfortable being vulnerable and open with them? Do you ask for what you need from your friends? Do you give them what they need? Do you know the song of a friendís heart? Do they know yours?

Appreciating good friends,

****

Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of†OwningPink.com,†Pink Medicine Revolutionary,†motivational speaker, and author of†Whatís Up Down There? Questions Youíd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.

Learn more about†Lissa Rankin here.

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the†Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of†Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.† She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.† Lissa blogs at†LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities -†HealHealthCareNow.com and†OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.

147 comments

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7:52PM PST on Jan 9, 2013

I like this article a lot, though I don't quite know what to do about my current friends. I know I probably shouldn't put much effort into some, but I am also tired of putting so much energy into those I care so much for, yet they rarely instigate contact in return. True friendship is very good for you, I would agree, but right now I'm just working hard not to be bitter about my supposed friend's lack of communication.

Not sure where that leaves me after reading this, but I really love the idea of meditating on those you really care about on a daily basis. That seems like such an nice thing to do.

10:11PM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

Friends- for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Since circumstances of my life have caused me to relocate numerous times, I have very few lifetime friends. Also, I know that my persona has changed over the years; so that later life friends know nothing of my childhood, etc. Everything seems to be constantly changing in my life, so it seems reasonable that there would be changes in relationships as well. Just because a relationship falls by the wayside bc one or the other person has changed so drastically or moved far distant geographically does not mean that you don't still cherish the relationship time in your heart/ soul/ being. I have found maintaining friendship status difficult for reasons to which I've already listed; & I admire and envy people who do have lifelong friends. Often I have observed that many are not even aware of the blessing(s) that they possess in their friendships & that them for granted.

7:38PM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

I believe this. Real friends can be hard to find though.

2:20PM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

Thanks for posting.

2:16PM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

Thanks for sharing.

12:45PM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

Thanks

12:15PM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

Interesting. Thanks.

1:47AM PDT on Apr 21, 2012

Thank-you for the interesting article. True blue friends will always tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. People come into out lives, possibly our hearts, for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. And we never know which it will be with each friend we make.

12:29PM PDT on Apr 18, 2012

Prawdziwa przyjaźń jest nieoceniona nie tylko wśród ludzi, także ze zwierzętami (psem, kotem itp.). Przyjaciel zwierzęcy czasem pewniejszy jest od przyjaciela - człowieka, bo jest szczery i nigdy nas nie zdradzi.

8:30PM PDT on Apr 15, 2012

very inspiring post,thanks

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