We know relationships matter. They are the key to our positive wellbeing.
We all need friends, no matter what stage of life we are in. Whether wearing our school uniform, or looking for people who can commiserate with us over workloads. People we can laugh with, spend time with, hang out with. In fact, we just need people in our life in general.
Friends aren’t just for fun. There’s a ton of research that shows how both the number and strength of our friendships improve our mental health, our physical health, and our overall happiness and sense of connection.
Friendships go beyond just having someone to sit next to in class, or someone to train with, or work with, or someone to send memes to. We all need people. But it also goes beyond even connection and companionship. Every person brings a unique perspective and set of strengths and skills to an interaction. We benefit from both the number and quality of our relationships.
We don’t just need friends in the general sense. We need a variety of people who can contribute to our health and growth in multiple ways.
Here are five types of friends we need in our lives, people that support us or we can support in different ways.
- The friend who inspires you to be better
- The friend who you are supporting/investing into
- The friend who knows your story
- The friend who you can laugh with
- Yourself. In order to be a good friend to others, you need to know yourself and support yourself.
A broader perspective of friendship, understanding how we each uniquely contribute to our relationships, will lead to a greater appreciation of people and greater acceptance of individuals. We need people who know us, people who can grow and inspire us, opportunities to be a good friend to others in need, moments of humour and joy, and a growing sense of self-acceptance and appreciation.
When we can see relationships for what they are: nuanced, messy opportunities to connect with others and grow, we stop shallow judgements and instead examine how we can positively contribute to relationships as well as appreciating others.
If we can work on this within ourselves and help the people around us, our students and children and friends, to continue to grow in both the number and quality of our relationships, our society will be a healthier place. We all need a diverse range of friends who can contribute to our lives in multiple ways.