The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend. —Aristotle
My best friend Nancy and I met in junior high school. We both liked a boy who was the playa’ in our school. One week, he liked Nancy, and the next week, he liked me. Nancy was a top tennis athlete and could kick my ass if she wanted to. I was scared of her. We were on a school ski trip, and wouldn’t you know it, Nancy and I showed up with the same ski outfit! I did everything I could to avoid her. She was waiting in line on the opposite side of the chair lift. As we moved closer to the beginning of the line, I saw that Nancy, would be sitting with me! This was it. I was sure she would push me off the chair lift!
Eventually, however, we started talking and realized that this boy really wasn’t a great boyfriend at all. And we discovered we had a lot in common. Forty years later, we talk on the phone at least once a day, and Nancy is my son’s godmother. I’m forever grateful for my BFF and love having someone with whom I can share my roller-coaster ride of life.
Having a few people with whom you can share your innermost thoughts, complain about your job or spouse, and who will lift you up during troubling times is one of the best things you can do to stay happy and healthy. Someone outside your immediate family who knows and loves you can be a great source of advice too. Knowing that you can pick up the phone and call someone who will be there for you in good times and bad can add years to your life!
I still keep in touch with girlfriends I had in high school and college. They know my backstory, and I know theirs. We may see one another only every few years, but it always feels comfortable and cozy to catch up. Recalling memorable events can stimulate brain activity, increase oxygen intake due to laughter, and increase feel-good endorphins, creating a more calm and relaxed feeling.
The emotional and physical value of a vibrant social life is even more important as you age. Friendships often wane as elderly people isolate themselves or when friends die. Social interaction can stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s and increase life expectancy, according to many studies. Human beings are social creatures. It’s natural for us to want to spend time with others who support and uplift us.