Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend?
Why having a BFF or two is brilliant for your health
If you received “Friendship Day” greetings via social media last Monday, don’t brush them off as spam. It turns out that celebrating your Best Friends Forever is a legitimate, socially important event. International Day of Friendship is not only a recognised observance but a United Nations initiative.
In 1997 Unesco’s proposal for a day to promote friendship was taken up by the UN General Assembly as it discussed children suffering as a result of different forms of violence.In its discussions a year later, the General Assembly emphasised the imporance of education. “If children learn to live together in peace and harmony that will contribute to the strengthening of international peace and co-operation.”
Thus International Day of Friendship was proclaimed in 2011 with the idea that friendships between people, countries and cultures can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.The UN last Monday said that, to confront poverty, violence and human rights abuses, their root causes must be addressed by “promoting and defending a shared spirit of human solidarity that takes many forms – the simplest of which is friendship. Through friendship – by accumulating bonds of camaraderie and developing strong ties of trust – we can contribute to the fundamental shifts that are urgently needed to achieve lasting stability, weave a safety net that will protect us all, and generate passion for a better world where all are united for the greater good.”
While the UN encourages governments and civil society to host activities to promote peace and harmony on International Day of Friendship, most people simply observe the day by sharing messages of gratitude with their friends on social media.Baragwanath Academic Hospital principal psychologist Jasmin Kooverjee said friendships are a vital part of social functioning.
While people believe the more friends they have the happier they are, the average number of close friendships in a lifetime is about three or four.
“Having that connection makes us feel like we are connected to the world which allows us to have a happier state of mind. When we lack social friendships, that’s when we may have emotional issues linked to loneliness,” Kooverjee said.
She said friendships can develop at any point in one’s life but research shows that friendships older than seven years are more likely to last a lifetime.A good friend is empathetic, honest and understanding, said Kooverjee. “A good friend means being able to make time for each other and also knowing that life is busy and not getting upset about every non-communication – and being able to know that even if you don’t speak and don’t hear from each other, the friendship still has good values and meaning because you are understanding of each other’s lifestyle.”