Little Known Trick To Increase Health by 50 Percent
What’s the secret to a long, healthy, and happy life? Is it diet? Exercise? No doubt those things are important. But they aren’t the most important thing. Research shows that the single most important factor that determines the length and quality of your life is something that might surprise you. It’s your friendships.
It’s easy to lose track of the importance of friendships in today’s culture. Between our obligations and with easy access to all kinds of entertainment, our friendships can fall by the wayside. We’re busy and often we’re tired at the end of a long day. But making friendships a priority may be the smartest thing you can do for your health and wellbeing.
Just How Important Are Friendship?
It may be tempting to blow off the idea that friendships can be so important. But hang on just a second. Because it’s true. Hundreds of studies have been done on the subject, all showing the same thing. Men who don’t have meaningful friendships are consistently the most depressed and sickest. Yet men who get together with friends regularly are among the happiest and healthiest.
Recently a major review of all of those hundreds of studies showed just how profound the effects can be. Loneliness from a lack of quality friends is worse than not exercising. It’s worse than being an alcoholic. It’s worse than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. It’s worse than being extremely overweight. That’s what science has found time and time again.
So if you want to do just one thing for your health and happiness, attend to friendships. You life just might depend on it!
What Relationships Count?
When it comes to benefits to health and happiness, what sorts of friendships count? Most of us men would like to believe that our relationships to our spouses or our children will be enough. Or we might hope that work friendships will offer us benefits. But no dice. It doesn’t work like that.
Marriage and children can add to our satisfaction in life, but they do nothing for our health. Even if those relationships are satisfying, they don’t add years to life. And work friendships - so long as they stay at work - are even less significant.
The only friendships that make a real difference according to the research are friendships that we make the time for apart from home and work. That’s why for thousands of years men have valued their friendships with other men. It’s good for us.
Men Are Friendship Challenged
Men have a long-standing tradition of strong male friendships. But in recent decades the importance of male friendships has deteriorated. So has our health and happiness. Researchers have found that since the second half of the 20th Century men’s friendships have become fewer and fewer. As a result we have lost some of the skill of building and maintaining those beneficial friendships.
But for our health and wellbeing we owe it to ourselves to relearn how to build friendships with other men and to prioritize those relationships. We need to learn how to balance marriage, home, and work with our friendships with other men.
What It Takes To Build The Right Friendships
Healthy male friendships fall all along the spectrum of types of friendships. According to research all kinds of friendships can be beneficial. A regular workout buddy at the gym or a game day crew can offer the same benefits as a chess partner or a hunting partner. What is important is that we find the friendships to be fulfilling and that we get together regularly.
Research shows that men who get together with friends at least twice a week are the healthiest and happiest.
Ways To Build Your Social Network
Some of us are fortunate to have life-long friends we’ve been getting together with weekly for decades. But many of us don’t have that luxury. Our modern culture finds us and our friends moving away and losing contact. So we have to take it upon ourselves to meet new friends and keep our social networks vibrant.
Here’s a list of some ways in which you can meet like-minded men:
● Join a sports league. Wherever you live, chances are men-only sports leagues can be found nearby. Sports offer the benefit of competition, which increases testosterone, as well as physical exercise in addition to male bonding.
● Join a fraternal organization. With plenty of organizations to choose from, there’s sure to be one that is up your alley. And a fraternal organization being, well, uh...fraternal, it’s all about male friendships.
● If you have religious or spiritual beliefs, you can likely find a male-only organization within your religious or spiritual beliefs.
● Reconnect with old friends
Many of us will feel that we don’t have time to get together with friends twice (or more) per week. But for most of us the truth is that we just haven’t made it a priority. In generations gone by men worked longer hours and had more responsibilities, and yet they also made time for friends.
Start to take a look at what you prioritize in your life. How much television do you watch? How much time surfing the internet? If we make friendships a priority, we can undoubtedly find ways to get together a few times per week.
For those of us who are married or still have children at home, we also have to find the balance between our relationships with our families and our friends. But research shows that men who maintain healthy friendships are not only healthier and happier. They also have better relationships with their wives and children. Make both home and friends a priority and your home life can thrive.
Begin to prioritize friendships today, and little by little you will be taking steps toward better health and happiness for a lifetime.