Like Anne of Green Gables, all of us are, whether or not we admit it, looking for “kindred spirits.” Everyone wants to have friends. It is one of the deepest human desires, and its fulfillment can mean the difference between happiness and misery. In fact, according to the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkely, “The upshot of 50 years of happiness research is that the quantity and quality of a person’s social connections—friendships, relationships with family members, closeness to neighbors, etc.—is so closely related to well-being and personal happiness the two can practically be equated. People with many friendships are less likely to experience sadness, loneliness, low self-esteem, and problems with eating and sleeping.”
The New York Times reports that the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has written that, “Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity,”
This implies that not only will friendship make you happier, it will also do more for your health than dieting and exercise. So, the best thing you can do for your health, both mental and physical, is to go out and make some friends.
But how to know what sort of friends to make? Some people say that their “friends” bring them down, and make it harder for them to make good decisions. Sometimes “friends” get people into drugs or gangs, while other so-called friends are simply there to use you. These are not real friends. A real friend is one who wants the best for you, who genuinely cares about you, and would be sad if something bad happened to you.
Having real friends of various sorts can make your life more fun, more fulfilling, and can also provide you with a valuable safety net, protecting you from dangers as widely varied as depression and financial setbacks.
Fortunately, friends come in all shapes and sizes, and can be any age. They also come in various types, and every girl needs at least one of each of these three types.
The buddy is the one you first think about when you think of a friend.
She’s the one you call if you’re sad, the one you hang out with wherever, the one you go to the movies with. You go shopping together, and when you get married, she’s the one you’ll want to be the maid of honor. If you’re lucky, she’s your roommate.
She’s the one you share ideas with, the one you tell your dreams, the one you laugh with.
A good buddy must:
Live reasonably nearby, or at least be available to talk frequently.
Be able to keep secrets.
Be enjoyable, and enjoy your company.
Know how to make you laugh at yourself.
Like some of the same activities that you do.
It’s important for every girl to have at least one buddy.
The Big Sister
The Big Sister is a more experienced woman that you can go to for advice.
The Big Sister doesn’t have to be an older sister. She can be a cousin, an aunt, your buddy’s mom, or the old lady who lives down the street. She doesn’t have to be related to you at all, or even be older than you. What she does need is to
keep your secrets.
know more about (at least some part of) life than you do.
be someone you can feel comfortable asking awkward questions.
The Big Brother
The Big Brother is a male friend who has no romantic or sexual intentions toward you.
If you’re lucky, you have an actual brother who fills this position in your life. Sometimes a cousin or friend can do it too. This is the person you call when you want a male opinion without a personal bias. He might also be the one you call when you need to move your furniture, are afraid someone broke into your apartment, or if you need advice buying a present for a boyfriend. He’s also helpful for chasing away unwanted attention from other men, if you happen to need help with that.
A Big Brother will ideally:
Care about you in a brotherly way.
Be level-headed and patient.
Each of these friends plays an important role in making a girl’s life happier and more fulfilling, and giving her a wider understanding and experience. Each of them is worth the time it takes to either find one or become one.