Having good friends definitely equals happiness

Sometimes I think I live my life by quotes–quotes I have compiled over the years from various sources.
“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!” (Henry David Thoreau)
“Don’t pay too much for the whistle.” (Benjamin Franklin)
“If you can conceive it in your mind, then it can be brought into your physical world.” (Wayne Dyer)
And this one, “I now attract new friends who are exciting, loving, caring, accepting, funny and generous.”
This quote is one I wrote for myself a few years ago and recently rediscovered on my computer. Since it was written, I have, indeed, found many wonderful new friends, mostly my “pool friends.”
They are caring, accepting, and generous. And we laugh a lot.
But according to recent research, I may have been on the wrong track when I focused my goal on new friends.
Researcher Richard Tunney, from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, found that having plenty of friends makes us happier. However, his findings show that having lots of “old friends” correlates with more happiness.
He said that people who have had the same friends for more than 10 percent of their lives were happiest.
According to that formula, I should be very happy–which I am.
I have lots of close friends in the eastern States, where I grew up, and in western Canada, where I lived for 10 years. But I rarely see them because I live in the middle of the U.S. now.
So now, my closest friends live right here. And fortunately, I’ve known many of my close friends for a whopping 50 percent of my lifetime, and many more for 30, 20, and 10 percent.
Even some of my new “pool friends,” are edging up to being friends for 10 percent of my lifetime. That’s what happens with “new friends” over time!
Tunney also said that the more friends you have, the happier you are. The optimal number is 10.
People with five friends or less had a 40 percent chance of being happy. People with 10 friends had a 50 percent chance of being happy. With more than 10 friends, the percent rises to only between 55 and 56.
Thus, Tunney said, 10 is the optimal number.
Interestingly, Tunney’s study was commissioned by The National Lottery and was called the “Circle of Friends.” The study measured the levels of happiness of lottery winners and non-lottery winners.
Among the questions the respondents answered–how satisfied they were with life, how often they talked to their friends, and how many new friends they had made in the past two years.
One significant finding of the study was that the lottery winners were much happier when they had friends they had known for a significant proportion of their lives.
Some people seem to be born happy, and those people usually have lots of friends. But, on the other hand, it’s not quite clear which comes first–happiness or friends.
Either way, the researchers said it’s up to us to maintain our friendships. Friends care about our difficulties, and we care about theirs.
We should cry and laugh together. Do things together and have lots of conversations.
So always remember good friends = happiness.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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