In Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are, you’ll discover the unexpected ways friends influence our personalities, choices, emotions, and even physical health in this fun and compelling examination of friendship, based on the latest scientific research and ever-relatable anecdotes.
Sharpen your mind
In his book ‘Collaborative Circles’, Farrel features a group of French Impressionists–Sisley, Renoir, Monet, and Bazille–that exemplifies how friendship circles become hotbeds of artistic output. Bazille, Farrell argues, was the gatekeeper, who saw something in each of these young painters. Monet became their charismatic leader who talked them into painting outdoors, a big step for the studio dwellers. Soon they began to form a common vision of their work, posittioning themselves outside the artistic establishment.
Farrell identified specific interactions between friends that preceded creative accomplisments.
It’s no new flash that friends make us happy, but Meliksah Demir, Ph. D., a professor at Northern Arizona University, has drilled down to reveal exactly what about friendship warms our hearts. It turns out that companionship–simply doing things together–is the component of friendship that most makes us happy. And the reason friends make us happy, Demir has concluded, is that they make us feel that we matter.
It makes perfect sense that having someone you care about, who cares about you, and with whom you share enjoyable talks and activities would boost happiness. But another mechanism by which friends spread joy is emotional contagion.
Inspire and get inspired
Friendship is often the special catalyst required for us to reach our aims. Whether you’re trying to finish college or run a marathon, having a friend beside you, pursuing the same objective, eases and quickens the journey.
One study provides a particularly touching metaphor for the concept while proving its strength: Researchers had subjects wear backpacks while standing at the bottom of a hill. They then estimated the hill’s steepness. Some were next to friends, and others stood alone. Being with friends made subjects perceive the hill as less steep; being with long-term friends decreased their estimate of the hill’s steepness even more.
Live long and Stay Healthy
The evidence of the salutary effects of friendship is so strong and is linked so clearly to common killers like heart disease, cancer, and obesity that one of the smartest health care policies never discussed on the Senate floor could seriously be an initiative to encourage and nurture friendships. And as anyone who has picked up a healthy habit only after teaming up with a pal can attest to, obligation and commitment to a friend can be far stronger than our own willpower.