Apparently friends bring you more health and happiness than your family

The saying does go 'you can choose your friends...'

The relationship you have with your family is, unless you’re incredibly lucky, probably the most complicated one of all.

If you thought work politics were a logistical nightmare, the dynamics within a family can be a hundred times worse. (Just think back to that last multi-generational family holiday.)

Although family are of course lovely, they can at times be a bit judgemental, right?

And new research from Michigan State University underline this fact by saying ‘friends are a conscious choice.’

Running over two studies with 300,000 participants from the ages of 15 up to 99 from around the world, the conclusion showed that those who put a high value on friendships were happier and healthier in general. The other study looked at almost 7,500 people over the age of 50 in America and looked at the correlation between their friendships and their state of health.

Those with stressful friendships were more prone to higher rates of disease or illnesses like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

But, surprisingly, family life (including spouses and children) was found to have a lower impact on someone’s health and wellbeing.

The author of the study, William Chopik told The Guardian that he isn’t saying we ignore our families, but that, ‘with friends you are more likely to do activities – they provide an outlet. You can say things to friends and they are less judgmental. There is a distance there that provides a level of honesty.’

The research also concluded that those with strong social bonds increased their odds of living long by 50% because they can be a buffer against stress and can raise self-esteem – which is why we instinctually stop being friends with people who don’t feel good for us.

So, what’s the ultimate lesson here? Don’t stop listening to each other, be less judgemental and just have fun!

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