Having close friendships might be the key to happiness, according to science.

Think about it. How would your life be without your close friends? Your list of friends probably includes people with different personalities, backgrounds, and ideas.

Yet, they all have something in common. Real friends are people who genuinely know you, and they remain your friend anyway. They accept you for who you are and know that you do the same for them.

Why do you have friends? Is it just so you will have people for socialization, or are the benefits on a deeper level physically, mentally, and spiritually? Here are ten reasons why close friendships may be the key to happiness and fuller life.

10 Reasons Why Friends Are a Primary Key to Happiness

Here are ten great reasons why friends might unlock the key to happiness in your life.

1. Offer Purpose to Your Life

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Think of what a boring world this would be without your friends. When you cultivate close friendships, it provides more purpose to your life. You look forward to spending time with them.

Sharing life with friends gives you a better sense of belonging. As you relate with others, you get a better picture of humanity and realize that you’re not alone. Maintaining a purposeful life is the key to happiness.

2. Reduce Your Stress and Boost Your Mood

How many times have you felt stressed out to the max and reached out to a friend for guidance? Countless studies show that spending time with a close friend can minimize your stress and its accompanying symptoms. A friend’s empathetic ear may be what you need to calm your nerves and refocus.

It’s hard to feel blue when you are around friends who are positive and upbeat. Your friends’ infectious laughter is bound to rub off on you. When you surround yourself with positive people, you will have a positive outlook on life.

3. Boost Your Self-Confidence

While flattery’s results are superficial, genuine compliments from friends can make you feel better about yourself. It feels good when someone you respect values your opinions and efforts. They can boost your spirits on a bad day and give you the push you need to make it through this crazy life.

4. Provide Strength After A Loss

Have you heard the old saying about the world laughing with you and then leaving you to cry alone? When you have a circle of close friends, they don’t leave you when the going gets tough. A true friend shines even brighter in the shadows of your grief, which is an essential key to happiness.

A loss isn’t just defined as the death of a loved one. Losing your job, divorce, and other upheavals can be just as devastating. Your friends don’t need to offer advice or give you false hope. Their loving and supportive presence can be a great comfort when you need it most.

5. Offers Accountability

Friendship is the key to happiness, but it can also contribute to better health through accountability. Multiple studies suggest that having a network of close friends may decrease your risks of certain diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.

If you are trying to lose weight and exercise more, you often have better results if you have a friend working with you for accountability. Camaraderie also positively influences helping people break other unhealthy habits, such as drinking and gambling. Your friend may see a problem while you are blind to it.

Friends look out for each other’s best interests, and they’re not afraid to tell you both good and bad things. Yet, you take constructive criticism when it’s from someone you love and trust.

6. Provides Honest Opinions

A real friend will be honest with you, even when the truth is difficult to confront. They can tackle challenging issues with compassion and grace. It may take a genuine friend to tell you that your new outfit doesn’t look as good on you as you think or broach the subject of a cheating mate.

When you are trying to make a crucial decision, close friends can be a source of valuable wisdom. They won’t push their opinions on you, nor will they offer unsolicited advice. As a key to happiness, real friends care enough about you to be honest.

7. Early Friendships May Help You Develop Romantic Relationships

Did you know that you often learned some of the best skills for a healthy romantic relationship from your childhood friendships? You learned to care about others, how to share, how to be honest and faithful. Early friendships also gave you a lesson about healthy boundaries that are necessary for a stable romantic connection.

8. May Contribute to a Longer Life

If you talk to the seniors in your life, they will probably share that the key to happiness and longevity is to be surrounded by friends. Many people in their golden years are still friends with people they knew as children. Because of the many benefits close friendship offers, many people live a longer, healthier, and happier life.

9. Provides New Interests, Skills, and Hobbies

Wouldn’t this be an odd life if everyone were the same? Fortunately, we all have different views and interests to make a more rounded society. Friends often share and teach their skills and hobbies with each other. It’s how skills and art have flourished since the beginning.

Think of the things you know how to do and who suggested and taught them to you. It’s a combination of family, school, and life-long friends. You probably have shared many of your interests and skills along the way, too.

10. May Keep Our Brains Sharp

Your brain is just like any other part of your body. To be healthy and strong, you must nourish and use it often. When you have friends, you are continually considering new opinions and ways of doing things. You do fun things together and often try to find solutions to trying situations in life.

As a key to happiness, friendship keeps your brain busy with critical thinking and challenges. Studies have shown that people with a close network of friends may be less likely to develop Alzheimer’s and other dementia conditions in senior years.

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Maintaining Close Friendships

As you go through each stage of your life, friends will come and go. It’s not always that you forced them away. Sometimes, you just outgrow friendships, or they fade with distance and time.

However, you may have close friends that have been with you most of your life. One survey said that at least 27 percent of Americans have ten friends or more. That’s a more encouraging number than the 2% polled who responded that they have no friends.

Like a garden, friendships won’t survive with neglect. It’s a mutual responsibility for cultivation and attention. It’s not always an easy task, but it often proves to be vital to happiness. Here are some tips for maintaining close friendships.

• Be honest

Nobody wants a friend who is two-faced or can’t be trusted. For a real, lasting friendship, always be honest with your friends and others. Show your friends that you can be trusted by keeping confidential things private and don’t engage in gossiping.

• Be Yourself

When people decide to offer you their friendship, it’s because they like you for you, not because you are someone else. Be genuine, and don’t try to boast or act like a person you aren’t. Most people can sense a fake friend and will step out of the picture.

• Be Dependable

Do you have that particular friend who is chronically late for every occasion and lets you downtime and time again? Such inconsideration can quickly dissolve a friendship. Instead, strive to be dependable.

• Be Kind

The world is already filled with many hateful people who cut others down with intolerance and cruelty. Kindness is a virtue for any friendship, and it should be mutual. If you are in constant competition and offer people backhanded compliments, you’re not a friend.

• Be a Good Listener

You may hear your friends talking, but are you listening to them? Good listening skills are a must if you want to make and maintain quality friendships. Remember to use neutral body language and try to mirror the other person’s emotions. Frequently it helps if you summarize what the speaker has said for clarification.

• Be Considerate

Have you ever been a party to a one-sided friendship? These are unfortunate relationships where one person needs all the attention and demands the other without reciprocation. Be considerate and abide by guidelines of mutual respect.

• Be Fun & Friendly

What are some of the qualities you like in your closest friends? Not only do you appreciate their honesty and integrity, but you also love that they know how to have a good time. Cultivate your friendships with fun, laughter, and quality time.

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Final Thoughts on Finding the Key to Happiness

You can never have enough close friends in this lifetime. They are with you through all situations and are a source of strength and joy when you need it the most. The key to happiness is having a friend and being friendly to others.