The Importance of Friendship in Your Life

Have you ever been hit so hard by an emotion that it felt physical? This weekend I was struck by a powerful rush of gratitude that literally stopped me in my tracks. In fact, it left me with such an overwhelming feeling of appreciation that I’ve struggled to put in words while writing this post.

So with that in mind, I’ll forego any eloquent phrases. Instead, I’ll simply note that this emotional lightning bolt helped me recognize and appreciate the importance of friendship in my life.

Now, I realize this may sound like a no-brainer statement. “Of course friends are important, Paula…duh.”

And yes, I’ve always understood the importance of friendship. But this sudden reminder hit me hard over the weekend, and it made me all the more grateful for those I have in my life.

Let me explain this a little bit.

The importance of friendship in your life

I’m a pretty introverted person. I love my alone time. I am happy snuggled up on the couch with a book and my dog, and a quiet night in with my husband often (almost always…) sounds more appealing than going out.

What’s more, I am a workaholic who tends to fall in the “live to work “ rather than the “work to live” mentality.

This latter trait is not something of which I’m proud, and I have been working to improve it for several months. (See my importance of routine series for details)

Because of these characteristics, I found myself thinking I could “go it alone” for years. Getting my work done came second only to my husband and family. Everything else fell to the wayside.

Rereading those last two sentences makes me cringe a little bit…  a lot a bit, actually. Because it’s the truth. It’s how I lived for a very long time. And it left me incredibly unhappy.

Sure, in theory, I knew that spending time with friends and doing things that I enjoyed would bring joy to my life. In practice, however, I just couldn’t do it. Anxiety skyrocketed, I felt guilty about “neglecting” my work, and I always felt I should spend my time more “efficiently.” (i.e. working)

The thing is, however, “efficiently spent time” is an entirely subjective opinion.

And over the past several months, I’ve slowly realized that my priority of work-above-all-else was completely skewed. (Recognizing the problem is the first step, right?)

I knew I wasn’t happy… I knew why I wasn’t happy… unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to fix it.

[bctt tweet=”“Friends are as companions on a journey, who ought to aid each other to persevere in the road to a happier life.” -Pythagoras” username=”BusyBeingPaula”]

Friends are as companions on a journey, who ought to aid each other to persevere in the road to a happier life. -Pythagoras

You see, when I practiced self-care, or when I spent time with those I love, anxiety and guilt both managed to tag along for the ride. They sat in the metaphorical front seat and ensured that I never fully invested myself in the experience. Instead, they reminded me of all of the work waiting for me at home. I simply could not get over that mountain of deadlines and work assignments and let myself enjoy the moment.

And admittedly, I have not yet fully scaled this mountain. While I’m unquestionably moving in the right direction, anxiety and guilt manage to climb in the front seat every now and again. I am nearing the summit, but I still must push myself to get there.

During this time of self-reflection, I’ve also discovered that I can’t climb this mountain alone. In fact, there are three key elements that have helped make this personal journey possible, and today I want to talk about the first: friendship.

The Importance of Friendship in Our Lives, gratitude, happiness, appreciation, love, care, kindness, reach out, demonstrate,

This weekend I met up with a dear friend who has played an essential role in helping me find balance. She has listened to me vent my frustrations, contemplate big decisions, cry about challenges, and explore possibilities. What’s more, she listens openly without judgment, before offering her sage advice. She is truly a gem.

As you might guess, it was my time with her this weekend that sparked my sudden rush of gratitude. I realized how positively she has influenced my life, and how fortunate I am to call her my friend.

Following this time of reflection, I felt inspired to share some of my thoughts with you. I hope that it might help you highlight the supportive people in your circle, and recognize the positive influence they have on your happiness.

So today I break down the importance of friendship into 10 broad categories, and highlight why it’s imperative that you nurture these valuable relationships.  Then at the end of the post, you can download a FREE list of ways to show your appreciation to those you love, and let them know how much you care.

The Importance of Friendship in Our Lives, gratitude, happiness, appreciation, love, care, kindness, reach out, demonstrate,

The importance of Friendship in your Life

Friendship brings laughter and adventure

Without a doubt, friendship brings plenty of laughter and fun into your life. Whether you’re trying a new restaurant, exploring a foreign city, or taking a class way out of your comfort zone, doing it with a friend brings endless laughter and joy. Friends not only encourage you to try new things, but they also try them with you, which always leads to unforgettable memories filled with joy.

Friendship brings encouragement

A friend’s encouragement doesn’t stop with simply pushing you to try new things. Nope, they cheer you on about all of life’s big and small decisions. Whether you’re debating a major haircut, or contemplating a drastic career change, they encourage you to follow your heart, and they have your back every step of the way.

Good friends are always there

Our lives tend to get busier with each passing year. As you well know, this makes it increasingly easy to fall out of touch with one another. Whether you’ve moved across the country, started a family, or changed careers, it can be difficult to reach out and maintain those connections. With good friends, however, distance is no boundary. Whether you need advice, a listening ear, or simply a giant hug, a good friend is there no matter what.

Friendship provides a listening ear

Sometimes you simply need a friend to listen. You need to take that jumble of thoughts filling your mind and talk through them with someone who understands…or at least tries to understand. Because even when your ideas don’t make any sense, it doesn’t stop a good friend from listening without judgment and providing support.

Friendship provides a judgment-free atmosphere

When challenges do strike, and the universe keeps knocking you down a peg, good friends let you vent, cry, mope, and complain as much as you need. They don’t pass judgment on your thoughts or actions. And they don’t tell you how you should respond to the situation. Instead, they offer comfort, and they prevent you from feeling alone.

Good friends provide a shoulder to cry on

There are times when words fail you, and you struggle to clearly express your emotions. It’s times like this when a friend knows what you truly need: a big hug and a shoulder to cry on. Friends offer that shoulder without hesitation, and they don’t move until you’ve shed your last tear.

Friendship provides perspective

Friends offer you their valuable – often candid – outside perspective. Whether you have a skewed perception of a situation, you’re too overwhelmed to see the bigger picture, or you’re blowing something out of proportion, a good friend offers their honest input and “tells it like it is.”

Friendships provide self-confidence

At different points in your life, you’ll likely experience uncertainty about your ideas, your decisions, or your sense of self. It’s at these times that a good friend sees past your fears. Instead, they highlight your strengths, they boost your self-confidence, and they help you recognize the strong, independent person that you are.

Friendship provides comfort

Good friendships continually impart laughter, encouragement, support, advice, perspective, and confidence in your life. Because of this, they also provide a feeling of safety and security. You’re comfortable showing your true colors, and you can speak your mind without hesitation, because you know you’re loved for who you are. By feeling confident in your own skin, you can let your guard down, hold nothing back, and embrace your true self.

Do you want to show your friend how much you care? Download this free list of suggestions and thank the special people in your life today.

The Importance of Friendship in Our Lives, gratitude, happiness, appreciation, love, care, kindness, reach out, demonstrate,

What do you value most in your friendships? Have you ever struggled with work-life balance? How do you overcome those challenges? I’d love to hear your suggestions – let me know below!

45 thoughts on “The Importance of Friendship in Your Life”

  1. I agree with all your points. As you grow up, you realize that time is limited and it’s better to invest in quality friendships rather than too many. A friendship is a two way street and you have to give to them the same way that it has to give you something back in return.

  2. My introverted spirit longs for deep friendships and I’ve been realizing that I need to be the friend and not just wish other people would be friends to me!

    1. That is such an important observation, Susannah! It is so easy to hope others will take that first step, when often times the responsibility is also with us!

  3. Love the post! I’ve realized how important friendships are over the last 6 years. I’ve been traveling throughout most of that time and have made a lot of friends along the way, but traveling doesn’t allow a lot of lasting, close friendships that create the benefits you talk about. That’s been a bit tricksy and I’ve noticed a desire for those things. Any tips for close friendships for the traveler? 🙂 Thanks x

    1. Thank you! Yes – I can totally understand how a traveler might struggle with developing these close relationships. I have a few suggestions for you that have worked really well for me; although I don’t travel a lot, many of my closest friends live half way across the country, so I can relate to the challenge of distance.

      This might sound counterintuitive at first, but one of the things that allows for these strong, powerful bonds to develop are everyday interactions and conversations about “nothing.” If you think back to your high school or college days when you saw your friends on a daily basis, you were fully up-to-date on the “ins and outs” of their lives. You knew if they had a fight with their significant other, you knew if they had a big test or job interview, you knew what type of music they just discovered etc. Because you had these regular interactions, you were able to establish a close relationship built on many different levels – the surface level conversations about your day, as well as a deeper level of trust, support, and love that develops out of those regular interactions. It’s funny – if you see a good friend on a regular basis, there is always something to say, and it feels like you could talk for hours. If you have a similar relationship with someone else who you only see once a year, however, it feels like a completely different situation. It seems like there’s nothing to talk about, because you don’t know the daily details. Instead the conversation is like this:

      Friend: “AHH! It’s so great to see you! How have you been? What’s going on?”
      You: “I KNOW! I am so excited to see you, too! I’m good! Life is busy! You?”
      And then it basically stops there.

      I’ve tackled this hurdle in two different ways, though they’re built around the same idea. The first concerns email.

      For a while I had been missing my immediate family a lot – we are spread out all over the country – and I felt like none of us were doing a great job of keeping up with one another. Instead, my sisters and I just got the details about everyone else when we talked with my mom on the phone. And there’s no good reason for this – we just never made the effort to reach out. So in response, I decided to start a group email with my family. We just send the group an email every few days with anything going on in our lives. The one rule is that it’s okay to be boring. And believe me – many times my emails are so uneventful. Today I complained about having to scrape my car for frost for the first time before going to work – ha. The important thing is not necessarily the content, but rather that we are keeping each other posted on the little ins-and-outs of our lives. Because while these events are seemingly inconsequential, they actually matter a lot, because they are our daily lives..

      In a slightly more up-to-date approach. I do the same thing with a group chat between me and my three best friends from high school. I graduated in 2003, and my friends and I had several years where we just got together during the holidays and had the same brief exchange that I just outlined above. It was lame. These three ladies are some of the most important people in my life, but we had nothing to say to one another. The group chat started when two of them had kids, and they started sending pictures to our group. Again, this opened up an entire new world of communication, and now we fill each other in on everything that’s going on in our lives. It’s such a simple and basic thing, but it is so important to stay connected to the little things.

      And by keeping close with the little things, the bigger connections naturally follow. You know what your friends are going through on a daily basis, you know their ups and downs, you can offer words of support or help them celebrate big events etc.

      So long story short, I recommend taking that first step and reaching out to those friends you’ve made on your travels. Send a quick email with your latest news, let them know you’d love to hear what’s going on with them (reassure them that “boring” and “short” is OKAY), and then keep the ball rolling. These emails or texts don’t need to be long. It shouldn’t feel like a task on your to-do list. It’s just a quick check-in to say hello and let your friends know you’re thinking of them. Then, the next time you see them in person, you’ll have PLENTY to talk about. What’s more, the next time you need someone to talk with about a bigger challenge in your life, you’ll feel comfortable turning to them, because it won’t be out of the blue. You’ve maintained that relationship and strengthened it through regular communication.

      I hope this helps a bit! Taking the first few steps can be overwhelming, but it is so worth it when you do 🙂

      1. Ah! Wow, you’ve won the award for best reply to a blog comment ever. 🙂 Thanks so much for all of that.
        I think I will take your advice. There are quite a lot of people I would love to reach out to and keep in touch with. And perhaps I’ll settle down somewhere at some point and make closer friendships. Haha.
        That would be amazing to have that group email with family, although that’s a much bigger hurdle! But maybe I will suggest it one day.
        Thanks again. Have a great weekend x

        1. Let me know how it goes! One of the things I like best about the email updates is there is no pressure to respond to each one. It is just a way to keep in touch. You can respond if you want, or just give your own update when you have the time 🙂

  4. These are all such excellent points. Having gone through a difficult transition recently, I really got to see who my true friends were and I’m so grateful every day to have them in my life. Sometimes just giving that listening ear is the difference in someone’s day!

    1. Yes – I completely agree. I am so glad you had those important people in your life to help you through your transition!

  5. This post has me feeling very grateful for my best friend. As an introvert myself, it is not always east to connect with others, but I am so grateful for the friendships I have fostered over the years.

    1. Yes – I can completely relate! It can be very difficult to reach out and begin those relationships, but once we do, it is so special.

    1. Yes! As a mom it is so important to reach out and make connections to those in your life (but living outside the home;-) )

    1. Yes – changes like that are always a difficult transition. But keeping your positive attitude and reaching out to new people in your life will help form those bonds quickly 🙂

  6. The older I get, the more important it is to me to have a few wise friends who will speak truth to me and tell me when I’m wrong or being a jerk. That involves making some judgments – evaluating my attitudes and actions against the Christian faith I claim. We all have blind areas and don’t see our own hypocrisy (or worse!) Friends that call my nonsense out are pure gold because not everyone will risk it.

    1. Yes! This is such an important point. We need those we trust – and who trust us – to be honest, open, and “tell it like it is.”

    1. It’s easy to have that happen. But it’s great that you’ve recognized it! Now you can start reaching out 🙂

  7. I have been living abroad for six month and have thought a lot about how it has affected my friendships. Seeing and talking to my girlfriends is probably the No. 1 thing I miss about being home. I think it will make me more grateful for those moments together.

    1. Yes – absolutely! It’s so true that we realize how important things are when we don’t have them in our daily lives.

    1. Yes! That is so true. Some of my closest friends are from my high school days and live half way across the country.

  8. I’m also an introvert so it’s almost always easier for me to spend time alone. I have so many wonderful friendships that I’m so thankful for! We need those connections and people in our lives to be in community with. I value the wisdom, perspectives, care and encouragement my friends show me! I honestly don’t know what I would do without them.

    1. Thanks so much for this comment, Naomi! You raise such a great point about the wisdom our friends share with us.

  9. So much truth here! So often we take our friends for granted or forget to show that gratitude! Love this reminder 🙂

  10. I have been burnt in the past by so called friends so became very cautious about friendships. Now I have several wonderful friends who I can depend on for anything.

    1. I’m sorry to hear about those terrible experiences, but so glad to read that you’ve found a group of true, dependable friends. That is so important.

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