Now in its 9th edition, World Friendship Day was officially created 8 years ago to encourage communities to find a moment to focus their thoughts and efforts on one of humankind’s most important values.
In fact, the idea behind the event dates much further back than 2011: it was during a dinner with friends in Puerto Pinasco, Paraguay – on July 20, 1958 – that Dr. Ramon Artemio Bracho suggested creating an association to promote solidarity and brotherhood amongst people. His idea was meant to unite different races, religions and cultures in the name of friendship.
Little by little the initiative reached the United Nations, and was officially ratified on April 27, 2011 as World Friendship Day, to be celebrated around the world with activities, projects and events.
A good friend is the best pain killer!
We all know how good and important it is for our mood to have a friend: a trusted partner who will keep our secrets, improve our self-esteem and share the highs and lows in life.
What you may not realize, however, is the impact a friend has on your physical health as well: friendships are actually good for our body.
According to a study conducted by Katerina Johnson and Robin I. M. Dunbar at Oxford University, published on “Scientific Reports”, people with many friends show higher tolerance to pain. Indeed, they appear to have heightened endorphin activity – endorphins being the neurotransmitters released by our brain that act as our body’s “natural pain killers”.
During the study, 101 adults between the ages of 18 and 34 were invited to answer some questions while performing a slightly painful physical task: the outcome? People with stronger and more solid personal networks showed higher resistance to pain.
Prevent chronic conditions.
Another study, by a team at the University of Michigan, has proven strong friendships can effectively help prevent chronic conditions.
The research entailed two surveys, and asked a sample of approximately 280,000 people information about their personal relationships, a self-evaluation of their health and wellbeing, and various questions on their stress levels.
According to the results, although both family and friends were considered as indicators of health and happiness, only the latter were associated with an increase in life expectancy at a later age. And there’s more: when friendships have generated anxiety or stress, chronic conditions tend to increase. On the other hand, they decrease in the case of positive friendships.
The elixir of life.
Finally, a 2010 article from "Plos Medicine" reported the outcome of a study by J. Holt-Lunstad, T.B. Smith and J.B. Layton at Brigham Young University, which aimed to establish what kind of social relationships could curtail mortality rates and to what degree.
What researchers found is incredible: a solid network of friends, built over time and maintained well into adult life, can increase life expectancy by 50%!
So making a friend is great, but keeping one is even better: let’s take a moment to think about it on World Friendship Day, and remember it for the next 364 days. Having a friend at our side will make the whole year more pleasant and positive.