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3 Ingredients of a Positive Friendship

Cultivating just a few positive relationships can be a source of joy, support and satisfaction throughout your life.


“There is nothing on this earth to be prized more than true friendship,” said the medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas. Friendship is indeed a prize, and research has shown that positive behaviors and emotions may even be “contagious” among social groups.

So what does a positive friendship look like? Here are three aspects of the kind of friendship that is good for your life.

1)  Positive Friendship Groups Are Intentional

As few as five friends—people you consider true companions who understand you, influence you to be your best self, and are there to encourage you when life’s challenges arise—can make a big impact on your overall well-being. In Japan, intentional groups of five friends are called moais, a Japanese word that means “meeting for a common purpose.” A recent report in The New York Times noted that American moais are forming with the encouragement of federal and state health officials.

2)  Positive Friendships Are Based on Common Interests

One such intentional group was formed around walking, and experts say that positive friendships start with common interests. This might seem intuitive, or counter to the idea that “opposites attract,” but even if you love spicy food and your best friend craves comfort food, a shared love of cooking and eating together is a bonding experience that forms a solid base for an authentic, deeply meaningful friendship.

3)  Positive Friendships Are Connected in Real Life

While social media allows us to stay connected with friends and family near and far, it’s the “real” connections of conversation, time in the same place, and even phone calls that cement friendships and bring out their most positive aspects. Dan Buettner, a researcher who studies longevity and friendships, told The New York Times, “In general you want friends with whom you can have a meaningful conversation. You can call them on a bad day, and they will care.”

What are the hallmarks of the positive friendships in your life?

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