Why not make friends a priority?

I love winter. I love snow and snowmen, skating and tobogganing, lying down and making angels in the snow, going to the ski slopes, and most of all sitting by the warm fire with a steaming cup of cocoa.
Growing up on Tug Hill plateau in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, we experienced plenty of snow–more than 300 inches some years. And I loved every inch of it.
Being snowbound meant the school bus wouldn’t come. We had plenty of time to lounge in the radiant warmth of the potbelly stove. And situated as we were on the main north-south highway, we often had stranded motorists who had sought refuge from the storm.
In one particularly severe storm, 10 stranded travellers stayed with us for three days. I experienced it as an adventure. But my mother had a quite different perspective as she cooked and cleaned up just in time to begin cooking for the next meal.
She saw her winter larder diminishing. And not one of those 10 guests paid a cent to help with the cost. But for me, the company just added to the fun of winter.
There isn’t much that I don’t like about the coldest season of the year. Except, that is, the sniffles and coughs that so often come just when we should be having a good time. Unfortunately, the common cold claims most of its victims in the beautiful weather of winter.
Certainly there are lots of remedies. Vitamin C, oranges and orange juice, chicken soup and, of course, plenty of over-the-counter drugs. For me in recent years, I have discovered zinc as a helpful remedy.
An article in the Journal of International Medical Research cited a study in which taking zinc resulted in a 42 percent reduction in the duration of the common cold. That was good enough for me. And I have tested zinc with excellent results.
But there also is another remedy that is being touted in the news. “Social people get fewer colds” boasted the headline.
A study from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh reports that loners are more likely to get colds than people who are socially active. Dr. Sheldon Cohen doesn’t understand why this should be, because those people who are more social would surely have more contact with germs.
However, a growing body of research says that close relationships do, indeed, reduce not only colds and ’flu but even serious problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
And Ohio State University researchers have shown that having a close circle of friends strengthens immune function.
People who are “joiners” are healthier than loners. And those with strong social relationships are less likely to have high blood pressure, less likely to suffer a heart attack, and less likely to require nursing care in old age. What’s more, they live longer than loners.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Mathematics professor Dirk Strulk was interviewed by Harvard researchers at age 104. He said, “I’ve lived this long because I didn’t die. I have good friends. I’m healthy. Above all, I’m active.”
Having healthy habits, staying active, and having good friends. These three are the most important factors in living long and staying healthy. And it just could be that the greatest of these is having good friends.
So why not make friendship a priority today?

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