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31 Ways Friends Make Life Better

We all agree that friends make life more enjoyable, but did you know they also play a crucial role in our overall well-being? In this article, from my perspective as a clinical psychologist (and a friend), I’ll explore the positive ways that adult friendships can impact our mental and physical health, personal growth, and even career success. 


Are you wondering how friends can transform your own life for the better? 


Let’s get started!

Cover. Ways friends make life better

Table of Contents

About the Author - Angela F. Caveney, Ph.D.


Introduction

When you google information about friendships, much of what comes up is related to children. And if not children, people in early adulthood. 


It is true, to some extent, that we are naturally more focused on friendships when we are younger. (This article about making friends as an adult explains more about why this is true.) 


The fact is that friendships are very important at all ages, from early childhood to our empty nesting years through very old age. Unfortunately, many of us lose sight of this as our lives get busy with careers, spouses and children.  


In this article, I hope to convince you to revisit the friendships in your lives and thoughtfully consider who your friends are and how much time you dedicate to cultivating these relationships. 


Read on to learn 31 of the (many more) great ways that good friends (not the toxic sort) truly do make life better. 

Mental health ways friends make life better

Mental Health Related Ways Friends Make Life Better

As a clinical psychologist, I frequently assign homework to my clients that is related to their friendships. Sometimes it’s about assessing the quality of friendships. Sometimes it’s about prioritizing time spent with friends. 


The reason I do this is that good friends play an absolutely crucial role in the state of our mental health. They provide emotional support, reduce our feelings of loneliness, and help us combat depression, anxiety and a whole host of other psychiatric maladies. 


Below is an in-depth look at just some of the ways in which friendships improve our mental health.


1. Friends provide us with emotional support

One of the most significant ways friends impact mental health is through emotional support. When we face life’s challenges—whether it’s a stressful job, relationship troubles, or personal losses - good friends offer a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.


This emotional backup helps us process our feelings, gain perspective, and navigate through difficult times. Knowing that someone understands and cares about what we’re going through provides immense relief and a sense of stability.


2. Friends reduce our feelings of loneliness

Americans are facing an epidemic of loneliness and the mental health consequences that go along with it. The cure, of course, is positive relationships - and friendships in particular.


Regular interactions with friends, whether through face-to-face meetings, phone calls, or even text messages, help us feel connected and valued. This sense of belonging significantly reduces our feelings of isolation and loneliness. 


3. Friends help protect us against depression and anxiety

As I already mentioned, strong social connections are linked to lower levels of depression and anxiety, two of the most pervasive psychological illnesses in our culture.


Friends offer a safe space to express our thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment. The simple act of sharing our worries and sadness with our friends can unburden us and make coping with mental health issues more manageable.


Friends provide reassurance, help us challenge negative thinking patterns, and encourage us to seek professional help when needed. 


4. Friends enhance our self esteem and confidence

Great friends see the best in us and remind us of our strengths and capabilities, which, in turn, boosts our self-esteem and confidence. This positive affirmation and support from friends helps us feel more secure and valued, enhancing our perception of ourselves and helping us develop resilience and a more optimistic outlook on life.


5. Friends encourage and motivate us

Having friends who believe in us and encourage us to pursue our goals is incredibly motivating. When our friends act as our cheerleaders, celebrating our successes, it helps us stay positive during life’s inevitable setbacks.


This encouragement helps keep us psychologically healthy and motivated to persevere, grow and even thrive through life’s many challenges and transitions.


6. Friends help us find purpose and meaning

Another of the ways friends make life better is through helping us find our purpose and meaning in life. Through the very act of nurturing and maintaining our friendships, we engage in reciprocal acts of care and support, which enrich our lives and give them greater depth.


This sense of purpose and meaning is fundamental to our mental health as it provides us with direction and fulfillment.

fun is one of the ways friends make life better

7. Friends provide us with opportunities for fun

As they did when we were kids, friendships expose us to numerous opportunities for personal enjoyment and enrichment. Whether we’re trying an interesting new hobby, attending events, or traveling together, friends encourage us to do and try things that bring us joy and excitement.


These shared experiences create lasting memories and add richness, depth and color to our lives.


8. Friends increase our life satisfaction

People with strong, healthy friendships generally report overall higher levels of life satisfaction. Together, we slow life down by enjoying moments and celebrating each other’s successes, no matter how big or small.


Friends make even ordinary activities, like laughing over a cup of coffee, feel special and more joyful. When facing challenges such as a relationship breakup or the loss of a loved one, having friends who offer emotional comfort can make a world of difference and help us get through these times with greater resilience and the sense that we’re not alone in this journey we call "life”.


9. Friends stimulate us cognitively

As a Neuropsychologist, people often ask me about how to keep their minds healthy. Whereas research findings regarding the cause and prevention of cognitive illness are mixed, there is no doubt that engaging with friends helps us feel cognitively active and sharp.


Conversations, debates, and shared activities stimulate us to focus our attention, use language higher level abilities and remember more than more passive activities such as sitting alone on a couch watching TV or doom scrolling the Internet. 

physical health related ways friends make life better

Physical Health Related Ways Friends Make Life Better

Beyond the significant positive impact on our mental health, healthy friendships also have profound and very real effects on our physical health. 


Here are a few of the reasons that having good friends can lead to a healthier, and even longer, life:


10. Friends help reduce our stress

An important way that friends make life better is through reducing our stress. Stress is a silent killer that can lead to numerous health issues, including heart disease, hypertension, and weakened immune function.


Friends help us cope with stress by providing emotional support and practical advice. When we share our worries with a friend, we feel like a weight has been lifted from our shoulders.


What is actually happening at the biological level is the reduction of cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in our body.


11. Friends encourage healthy habits

Healthy friends can influence our own behaviors in many positive ways. When surrounded by health-conscious friends, we’re more likely to adopt healthier habits ourselves. Friends, for example, may encourage us to exercise regularly, eat a more balanced diet, and avoid harmful activities such as smoking or excessive drinking. 


Moreover, friends often provide motivation, accountability and increase joy for these healthy habits.  Joining a friend for a morning run or participating in a group fitness class can make exercising more enjoyable. Mutually sharing our commitment to health goals with our friends creates a supportive environment where we encourage each other to stay on track. 


12. Friends enhance our immune functioning

Another way that friends make life better is by strengthening our immune system. Cohen and colleagues found that people with diverse and robust social ties tend to have better immune responses, making them less susceptible to common colds and infections.


These same researchers also found that individuals with strong social networks have higher levels of antibodies and immune markers, which are crucial for defending against pathogens.


As already mentioned, emotional support from friends can protect us from chronic stress, which suppresses immune function. 


Futhermofe, the positive emotions associated with friendship trigger the release of endorphins and oxytocin, enhancing our mood and reducing inflammation in our bodies. 


Healthy behaviors promoted by friends, including regular exercise and proper sleep habits are also essential for boosting immune health, in part, by improving our circulation and lymphatic drainage.

Hugs lower blood pressure - one of the ways friends make life better

13. Friends can help lower our blood pressure

Engaging in caring relationships and maintaining physical affection with friends provide a substantial benefit in managing everyday health by reducing blood pressure.


A survey by Dignity Health and The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education revealed that empathy and support from friends significantly lowers blood pressure. This review highlights that compassionate interactions mitigate stress responses, reducing stress hormones that otherwise elevate blood pressure.


Studies have also shown that supportive physical touch - such as hand-holding and hugging among friends - also lowers our blood pressure by reducing our level of stress hormones and increasing oxytocin, helping us to feel more relaxed. 


14. Friends can help us live longer!

Increased longevity is one of the most compelling ways that friends make our lives better. Having friends with whom we share our lives not only improves the quality, but also the length of our lives. 


In a meta-analysis, Julianne Holt-Lunstad and her colleagues found that our  social relationships have as much influence on our risk of dying as very well known mortality risk factors such as smoking cigarettes! 


Their review of the research indicated that individuals with robust social connections have a 50% increased likelihood of survival compared to those with fewer social ties. This statistic holds true regardless of age, gender, and health status. 


15. Friends help us recover

Good friends don't just help prevent illness; they can also aid in our recovery. People recovering from surgeries or serious illnesses often heal faster when they have strong social support.


In addition to providing emotional comfort, friends can help us with daily tasks, and even help ensure that we adhere to medical advice and our treatment plans. (There’s that accountability piece again!) 

Personal growth ways friends make life better

Personal Growth Related Ways Friends Make Life Better

Friendships are not only about companionship and fun; they also play an important role in our personal development. Friends can significantly influence who we become, how we see the world, and how we navigate life's challenges. 


Here are some ways that  friendships contribute to our personal growth:


16. Friends build our emotional resilience

One of the most profound ways friends impact personal growth is through emotional support. Friends provide a safe space to express feelings, share experiences, and seek advice without judgment. This emotional backing helps us build resilience, allowing us to bounce back from setbacks and approach life with a more positive outlook.


17. Friends encourage us out of our comfort zones

Great friends often encourage us to try new things and step out of our comfort zones. Whether it's taking up a new social hobby, pursuing a challenging career opportunity, checking out a creative social event, or traveling to an unfamiliar place, friends inspire us to continually reinvent ourselves and venture beyond our usual boundaries. 


Pushing us out of our comfort zones is one of the ways friends make life better

18. Friends provide constructive criticism and feedback

True friends aren't afraid to give honest, constructive feedback. They can offer insights about our behaviors and decisions that we might not be able to see for ourselves. In a sense, friends can act as mirrors, reflecting both our strengths and weaknesses.


Helpful feedback from friends allows us to identify ways in which we can improve and develop better habits. 


19. Friends diversify our perspectives and ideas

Having a diverse group of friends exposes us to many different viewpoints and ideas, enriching our understanding of the world. Engaging in conversations with friends from various backgrounds challenges our beliefs and encourages critical thinking. This diversity of thought promotes intellectual growth and a more well-rounded perspective on life.


20. Friends motivate and hold us accountable

Friends often serve as crucial motivators and accountability partners in our personal development journeys. When we share our personal goals with encouraging friends, we are naturally more likely to stick to them. 


We can ask our friends to help us stay on track by checking in and asking about our progress. For example if you're working on writing a book, a friend can provide feedback on your chapters, keep you on track with deadlines, and celebrate milestone accomplishments with you. 


Having someone who believes in our potential, acts as a sounding board for our ideas, cheers our accomplishments, and motivates us in the face of obstacles can be incredibly empowering and drive us to achieve more than we would on our own.


21. Friends act as inspiring role models

Every one of us needs friends that we look up to as role models. Their achievements, core personal values, and ways of handling situations can inspire us to "do better" in our own lives.


Having friends who are where we want to be in terms of our careers, healthy lifestyles, and personal challenges is incredibly motivating and provides us with a guide to adopting similar traits and behaviors.


22. Friends keep us curious

Friendships are a source of curiosity and lifelong learning, making our lives better through shared experiences and knowledge.


Through our interactions with friends, we pick up new skills and discover topics of interest that we might not have explored otherwise. 


Engaging in thoughtful conversations with friends also enhances our critical thinking abilities, allowing us to explore new ideas and perspectives. 


friends make life better during life transitions

Ways Friends Make Life Better During Major Life Changes

During significant life changes - like moving to a new city, starting a new job, or dealing with family issues - great friends can be an invaluable sense of support. They provide emotional stability, offer practical help, and ensure that we don’t feel alone during life transitions. 


*Note - If you’ve recently moved, this article about making friends in a new city will help you find that all important support system. 


Here are some of the ways friends can assist during times of great transition:


23. Friends help us maintain emotional stability

Major life changes can bring about a snow globe of emotions, from excitement to anxiety and even to fear. Emotionally healthy friends provide us with a calming presence and a sense of normalcy amid the chaos. They listen to our concerns, validate our feelings, and help us navigate the emotional turbulence. 


24. Friends lend a hand

Friends can also offer very practical help during significant life events and transitions. Whether we are moving to a new home, starting a new job, or adjusting to a major life event, good friends will be there to lend a hand. They might help us pack and move, introduce us to new social circles, or assist with everyday tasks that can be more overwhelming during times of change. 


25. Friends provide us with a sense of belonging

One of the hardest parts of major life changes is the feeling of being uprooted and disconnected. Friends help anchor us, providing us with a sense of belonging and continuity. This feeling of connection can be especially important when we’re in a new environment, as it helps us adapt more quickly and feel more at home.


26. Friends help us cope with loss

Friends are invaluable during times of loss or grief, such as the death of a loved one or the end of a significant relationship. They offer us a shoulder to cry on, listen without judgment, and help us process our grief. Their presence is a comforting reminder that we are not alone, which is essential for emotional healing.

Business and career ways friends make life better

Business and Career Related Ways Friends Make Life Better

A final way (at least that I’ll discuss in this article) that friends make life better is through the positive influence they can have on our business and career success. 


Here are just some of the ways in which this is true: 


27. Friendships lead to natural networking opportunities

Perhaps one of the most obvious ways friends can help us professionally is through networking. Friends can introduce us to key contacts, recommend us for job openings, and invite us to important events. These connections can open doors to new opportunities, collaborations, and career advancements that we likely could not have accessed otherwise.


Those in business are familiar with business networking groups, but I would argue that non-business, social clubs - such as The Trybe Women’s Social Club - actually provide even better networking opportunities because of their emphasis on social relationships, rather than business per se. 


28. Friends can offer us business mentorship and advice

Friends often serve as career mentors and advisors, offering guidance based on their own experiences and expertise. Whether we need advice on navigating office politics, improving particular skills, or making strategic career decisions, friends can often provide insights and perspectives that help us grow professionally.


29. Friends can be great collaborators

Collaborating with, or seeking feedback from, friends on business projects can greatly enhance our skills and professional development. Friends who are ahead of us in our career trajectory can offer constructive criticism, suggest new approaches, and help us refine our ideas. This collaborative spirit fosters continuous learning and improvement, naturally leading to further career successes.


30. Friends can increase our career potential

Friends believe in our potential and encourage us to pursue our career goals with confidence. This support and encouragement bolsters our self-esteem, and motivates us to tackle new career challenges and strive for excellence. 


Knowing that our friends are cheering us on gives us more courage to take risks, such as applying for a promotion, seeking out leadership roles, or even starting our own business.


31. Friends help us balance work and life

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential for long-term career success, and friends play an absolutely crucial role in this. They remind us to take breaks from work, enjoy hobbies and leisure activities, and prioritize our well-being. Having a solid work-life balance helps to prevent burnout and promotes sustained productivity and career satisfaction.


Final Thoughts

At any age, friendships enrich our lives in countless ways, from improving our mental and physical health to dealing with life transitions, to contributing to personal growth and career success. By cultivating and nurturing our friendships, we can lead happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives. 


About the Author

Angela Caveney, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist, Neuropsychologist and Founder of The Trybe Women's Social Club. Her absolute favorite things to do are to help women find their people, rediscover themselves and thrive throughout midlife. She can be reached directly at angela@the-trybe.com.


If you're having trouble finding your people, check out and consider joining The Trybe's Digital Membership.


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