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To learn more about why making new friends (and strengthening the bonds you already have) is so important, we turned to Donna MacMillan, an Edmonton-based life coach. She shares how genuine connections with others can enhance your happiness, mental health and personal drive.
1. Having friends is good for your health
Socializing helps us unwind, let loose and live in the moment, which are all significant contributing factors to good health. "Friends are critical to our health, and one of the biggest reasons is laughter. With friends there's a lot of laughter, and when you laugh it increases wellness immensely," says MacMillan.
Laughing is quite literally the best medicine. The endorphins released by laughter and excitement temporarily allow a heightened threshold for pain tolerance, MacMillan explains. So adapting a happier disposition and allowing yourself to laugh more often can build a lifestyle that is naturally more resistant to mental and physical pain.
2. Friends can help you achieve your goals
Whether it's sticking to a fitness plan or overcoming a difficult personal obstacle, companionship makes achieving your personal goals a lot easier. "Our friends allow us to relax, and when you're relaxed you can actually start to connect with yourself again," MacMillan says.
This makes it much easier to see the bigger picture. Only when we break free from the chaos in our minds -- such as stress, the pressures of deadlines and looming goals -- can we focus on what we truly want and how to achieve it, she explains. Spending time with friends allows you that necessary opportunity to step away from the chaos so you can put things in perspective and focus on getting things done.
Page 1 of 2 -- Discover three more reasons why you should expand your group of friends on page 2
3. You can release your inner child with friends
Getting caught up in daily responsibilities can make it hard to enjoy yourself or to find pleasure amid the daily grind. Friends can help bring out that fun-loving child inside of you, the one that gets lost amid deadlines, dinner duty and endless piles of laundry.
"When we get out with our friends, we actually become quite childlike," says MacMillan. This can be a positive shift because children often don't overthink things in the way that adults tend to do. Rather, they act on a more instinctual level, she explains. Being in touch with your inner child is a crucial part of being creative, imaginative and open to new opportunities that you might otherwise miss out on.
4. Having more friends means improved networking
We hear it all the time: Your connections are your most important career asset. The most valuable and long-lasting connections you have are the ones that are the most genuine. These relationships will give back in ways that extend beyond the career sphere.
To create relationships that are beneficial both in and out of the office, just be yourself, advises MacMillan. "Honestly, just relax and show people who you are. That is where your charm is. If you don't allow your true self to show you can't truly connect with people," she explains.
People will respect you all the more for being approachable and friendly. Besides, it's the genuine connections that will likely create new opportunities, open up more channels for discussion and help you find common ground with new people.
5. Friends can help you learn new things
Friends are the best teachers as they can open your eyes to interests you didn't know you had and offer fresh perspectives when you're out of ideas. Often without even trying friends can help you realize the solutions to your most difficult situations.
"When you're having a big dilemma in life, when you're sitting pondering the same question over and over again and you can't find the answer, go for lunch with your friends," MacMillan says. Trust your friends to help you make sense of a problem that has you stumped or upset, she advises. Sometimes it's surprising to find that your friends often know you better than you know yourself.
It can be easy to feel that you have enough friends or that you don't have time to forge new relationships, but making an effort to reach out and connect with others has many benefits. Do yourself a favour and expand your social circle to reap the rewards -- both personal and professional -- of new friendships.
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