Friendship in February

It’s February! That month where greeting card companies sell you love.

We're no different here at Hope Street Cards. We’re going to be selling, spreading and sharing the love this month. One of the most glorious forms of love – friendship.

How good are friends?

Aristotle said:

“In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.”

When I was younger I came across the saying - “your friends are a reflection of you”. I didn’t quite get this for a while. Mostly because my friends have always seemed to be consistently and significantly attractive. The reflection did not seem all that obvious, But as I’ve gone on and seen how other people make friends, and how truly honoured I am to have my friends it starts to make a bit more sense. I’m not so worried about the superficial attributes such as looks, money, success or status but rather I fall in love with those who bring laughter, joy, honesty and who can be there for me and also give me a firm kick in the butt when I need it. I always find it intriguing to meet friends of people I know because I can really get a sense of that person by the company they choose to keep in their life.

As human beings, we become so busy with our jobs and career, family, household chores, daily activities that we often neglect one of the most important aspects of life; friendships, the relationships that develop over time that hold a very special place in our heart. Friends are family members that we choose to allow and keep in our lives. From our first childhood friend to those lifelong friends we have known for decades; friends are treasures that can bring so much positivity into our lives. Yet we often become too busy and can neglect to reflect on the wonder of these important people.

Here's some of the reasons why we think friends are great (and why we’ll be spending all of February banging on about friendship)

  1. Friends are there to lift you up in joy and comfort you in sorrow
Good friends can be and will be our backbone. In celebrations they will show up and share in it with us. In rougher patches, they can be there to listen, give us advice and try to get us out of that slump. True friends show up, no matter what.
  1. Friends help you develop social skills

I am a bit of an introvert. I love people, but usually in small considered doses. When someone invites me to a party or to a wedding, I cringe on the inside because I know I will have to be around a lot of people that I don’t really, which gives me anxiety. However, if I know my friends will be there, I know it will be okay. They can help push me out of my comfort zone and always get me into social gatherings. From childhood, friends are there to invite us to birthday parties, have play dates and as we get older we dinner with our cherished friends to catch up on the week or the past month. These events make life so much more special.

  1. Good friends will give us a reality check
We have all been there and we all have that friend; that instance where he or she is being completely inappropriate whether they are throwing a fit, copping an attitude or just being downright rude and nasty. Friends are there to give each other a reality check. It could be the ridiculous outfit we are wearing or the boyfriend treating us poorly. True friends bring the truth in front of us. The beauty of true friends is they will tell you like it is, but from a good place in their heart.
  1. Friendships at a young age can help you develop healthy romantic relationships
Having friends early in childhood and throughout your teenage years can help us learn how to compromise in relationships, which fights to go to battle and how to communicate assertively. Friendships are very similar to romantic relationships (without the sex) and healthy friendships can help us to develop boundaries and skills that also assist in navigating successful and healthy romantic relationships in the future.
  1. The Happiest People are the Most Social
Convincing evidence of this phenomenon comes from Ed Diener and Martin Seligman, two leading experts in the field of happiness research. When they compared the happiest to the least happy people, they found that the first group was highly social and had the strongest relationship ties. In fact, good social relations were a necessity for people to feel happy. Similarly, other psychologists have written that the need to belong is “fundamental.”
  1. Happiness Is Contagious
If a friend of ours is happy, we’re more likely to be, too. A Harvard Medical School study of 5,000 people over 20 years found that one person’s happiness spreads through their social group even up to three degrees of separation, and that the effect lasts as long as a year. On the flip side, sadness isn’t as contagious: While having a friend who’s happy improves your likelihood of being happy by 15 percent, having one who’s unhappy lowers your chances by just 7 percent. Fascinating? I know!
  1. Friends Cut the Small Talk—and That Makes Us Happy
I hate small talk. Sure, we all chit chat with our buddies, but when there’s something serious to discuss, hopefully we have a confidant who we can turn to. That’s important because people with the highest levels of wellbeing have more “substantive” conversations than small talk, according to a 2010 study in Psychological Science.
  1. Our Friends Help Us Feel Optimistic
Researchers say that daily social support is a key factor in feeling optimistic. Optimism, in turn, increases our satisfaction with life and lowers our risk of depression. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology showed that when we feel that we have social support, our visual perception of challenges actually changes: Mountains look more like molehills.
  1. Friendships Improve Our Health
Let us count the ways! 1. Those of us who have social support are more likely to keep up an exercise plan more than a year after starting it. 2. The least “socially integrated” people experience memory declines twice as fast as those who are more connected. 3. Social support wards off depression and suicide. 4. People who are lonely tend to have higher blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease, and they’re more likely to “give up” or “quit trying” to deal with a stressor such as illness. Not to mention…
  1. Our Friends Help Us Live Longer

A Swedish study found that when men do get enough social support during stressful times, they tend to live longer than those who didn’t have someone to lean on. There’s ample evidence that friendships don’t just make our lives better, they make them longer. Women who have at least one confidant survive longer after surgery for breast cancer, for example. And a review of 148 studies found that people with stronger social relationships have a 50 percent lower risk of mortality. In addition, older people without close friends are more likely to develop chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and depression than their counterparts.

Obviously it’s not all roses though. Sometimes we bicker with our friends, feel envious of them, or even gossip about them. But they’re worth the bother. Our friendships enrich our lives in profoundly meaningful ways. And throughout February we’re going to find out exactly how …. Stay tuned.  



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