12 Ways Friends Improve Our Lives

“A true friend is the best possession.” – Benjamin Franklin

I write often on the benefits of living with fewer possessions. One of the greatest rewards of living with less is the opportunity that it provides to focus our energies (and finances) on the things that are most important to us. These values will change from person to person, but for me, they have been typically defined as faith, family, and friends. Since choosing to become minimalist, I have had more time, money, and energy to pursue each of them.

One of the reasons that friendship makes my list of values is because I have seen how much benefit they provide. The opportunities they provide to make life better far outweigh anything that can be found in material possessions. As a result, they ought to be pursued with far greater fervor than most of us commit to them.

Consider the ways friends make life better. Authentic friends…

1) Encourage us. Friends believe in us. As a result, they offer both the words and the support we need to become better people in all aspects of life.

2) Challenge us. Friends recognize deficiencies in our life. They challenge us to embrace and succeed in making these healthy, life-giving changes.

3) Motivate us. In every regard, it is highly motivating to know that someone loves you, believes in you, and is cheering for you.

4) Listen to us. Friends open their ears and hearts to our words. A listening ear communicates value, trust, and openness. And a listening ear provides the opportunity for our thoughts to disentangle themselves.

5) Celebrate with us. Full joy is never realized until it has been shared with others – that’s why we immediately call our friends when something good happens. Friends celebrate with us in victory and make our joy complete.

6) Grieve with us. Life is full of ups and downs. Friends make the high points higher and the low points bearable.

7) Support our contributions. Friends recognize the value we contribute to the world and the beauty we offer to it. They look forward to our contributions and promote them to others.

8) Keep us honest. Friends know us best. They know our strengths… and they recognize our weaknesses. Because of their intimate knowledge of who we are, they keep us honest with each other and with ourselves.

9) Add joy to our lives. According to a study from the Harvard Medical School, the more friends a women had, the more likely they were to be leading a joyful life. There is likely some correlation between being joyful and having friends… but clearly the inverse is also true.

10) Improve our health. Studies also indicate that authentic friendships actually result in better health. These relationships make healthy habits easier to adopt and the body more likely to heal itself.

11) Provide opportunity for influence. Trust always precedes influence. Sometimes trust can be earned quickly (books, experts, studies), but other times it can take years of living life together. Friendships – life lived in relationship with others – offers trust and influence.

12) Provide opportunity for sacrifice. Giving always benefits the receiver and the giver. True friendships require sacrifice. And in that sacrifice, both lives are improved.

Of course, those of you who already have good friends understand these realities. In that case, take some time today to be reminded of their importance in your life. Adjust your life accordingly. Extend gratitude where needed or change your priorities as necessary to further invest yourself into them.

But there are a number of people who will read this post and desperately desire the level of intimacy and longing mentioned above. You have sought these friendships for years and yet, for one reason or another, they have eluded you. Or you had them at one time, but they have since disappeared from your life. Take heart. And never lose hope.

The path to discovering these authentic relationships is always the same. It will require risk, trust, and honesty. It will require sacrifice and intentional investment. It will require you to give and give and give some more and it will require you to become the very friend you desperately desire. But in the end, it will be worth every ounce of energy you commit to it.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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Comments

  1. says

    I’m happy for you, Joshua, that you’ve been able to enjoy all these numbered benefits of friendship. Every one of them is pretty important. Unfortunately I seem to fall, for the most part, into the group to which your penultimate paragraph refers.

    Making friends seems to come easy for some people, but for others true friends are few and far between. The advantage of that, if any, is that we treasure those very few all the more as their scarcity makes them all the more dear.

    • says

      Mike, I’m like you. Due to my not fitting well into any one group, I have a hard time finding good friends. However, like you said, it does make those that stick around (and accept you for you) that much more special/important. I may only have a handful of true friends at best, but I know I could call on them for anything. And that’s all that matters–not the number, but quality.

    • says

      Mike,

      I have a son who is very introverted. I am very extroverted. It took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t “wrong” that he only had 2 close friends, and he chose not to connect with a variety of others. His quality of friends is high. His quantity is not. He is still happy. His friendship experience is so different from mine. I’m glad you are able to treasure the friends that you have.

      • says

        Thanks for the added thoughts Mike, Megyn, and Stacy. I agree. Each of the benefits listed above can be accomplished with just one friend. Numbers have nothing to do with it.

  2. says

    from singer-songwriter Paul Williams,
    “Friends are like warm clothes in the night air, best when they’re old and we miss them the most when they’re gone…”

  3. says

    This is great and really true. I’ve found in my life that sometimes I want these great friendships and stuff, but none of my friends are exactly like that and my family can suck sometimes. But I’ve realized that actually, not one friend needs to fill all these needs. And friendships/family aren’t perfect because we’re all human. Be happy with the friends you have and see the awesomeness that they are!

  4. says

    So very true Joshua! My best friend got married at the beginning of this year and I was his best man. Had I been more present minded and better at public speaking, I likely would have spoken to very similar points as you have enumerated here. This is really, to me, not just what a friendship is, but what any truly strong, meaningful relationship can and needs to be.

  5. Deniz says

    Wow so everyone really does have friends? You’re all talking about friends as plural but i don’t have one (besides family). I have met a few potential good friends but just as i do they move, or i move or something. Im a stay at home mum whos almost 24 years old and although i had ‘mates’ in high school and at university, we never really got close enough for me to trust them with much more than light hearted conversation. I switched uni’s a few times just as i was getting to know people, so no strong friendships developed. I think (and thought) i was fine not having friends, and not missing out on much, but the way you have written this post makes me question that. Do we need friends? I dont mean that in a selfish way but i truely would like to know.

    • Amanda says

      There is a bit of a transition to becoming a mom and especially a stay at home mother. It took me years to find a few women to develop close relationships. It takes a while to find people that you have enough in common with that you can and want to develop a closeness and not just an acquaintanceship.

      One can obviously live without out friends but as Joshua explained it makes life so much richer (and I think as stay at home moms we have to be vigilant not to isolate ourselves too much for our own sake). Really, until you have it you do not know what it is like. I have closer friends now than ever and it truly enriches my life in every way.

      I don’t have a ton of friends, 1 best friend, 2 that are very close and another couple that are more than acquaintances but we don’t share everything. I’m an introvert as well, which does make it more challenging but I just kept on trying.

    • Kiri says

      Find friends for your kids, too. It is too much for a child to bear to be the only friend their mom has.

      What a great post. We have to keep reaching out, being open and vulnerable, and loving. Love heals.

      peace,
      Kiri.

  6. says

    Timely post, this topic has been much on my mind this week. I’ve taken a somewhat minimalist approach to friends… the circle is small because the word “friend” is like the word “love” — it needs to really mean something.

    I am amused by people on FB and Twitter who purport to have hundreds of friends. Really? To a lot of people, “friends” are an accessory.

  7. Theo says

    Last year I attended a new school, and I felt miserable because I didn’t “click” with anyone there. The friends I had were outside of school, and all in the same “circle” as my boyfriend at the time. I was scared to lose all my friends in case the relationship didn’t work out.

    As it happened, it didn’t work out – but the friends sticked with me. I also made a bunch of new friends when I transfered schools. This may not hold true for everybody, but I am so much happier, confident and enjoying life when sharing it with friends.

  8. says

    In the situation we find ourselves in currently we tend to spend the majority of hours of each day at work, only to then come home and be too tired to go out. If we do go out, we’ll then tend to go out with our usual crowd of friends and to not really meet anybody new

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