Having a handful of good friends around can bring a lot of difference to your health and well-being. As we grow older, friendship may become even more important than family relationships, a recent study has suggested. The study involved nearly 280,000 people and Willian Chopik of Michigan State University in the US found out that friendship can become increasingly important to one’s happiness and health during one’s lifespan. Chopik studied survey information about relationships and self-rated health and happiness from 271,053 participants belonging to all ages from nearly 100 countries.
The second study analysed the data from a separate survey about relationship support and chronic illness from 7,481 elderly adults in the US. According to first study, both friendship and family are associated with better health and overall happiness. But at later stages, only friendship became a strong predictor of health and happiness.
The second study also concluded that friendships are extremely influential. When friends caused stressed, participants showed more chronic illnesses and when the friends are a source of support and happiness, the participants were happier. That may be because of the optional nature of relationships -- over time, we keep the friends we like and who make us feel good and discard the rest, according to the findings published online in the journal Personal Relationships.
Friends also can provide a source of support for people who do not have spouses or for those who do not lean on family in times of need. Friends can also help prevent loneliness in older adults who may experience bereavement and often rediscover their social lives after they retire. Family relationships are often enjoyable too, Chopik said, but sometimes they involve serious, negative and monotonous interactions.
"There are now a few studies starting to show just how important friendships can be for older adults. Summaries of these studies show that friendships predict day-to-day happiness more and ultimately how long we'll live more so than spousal and family relationships," he said.
(With IANS Inputs)