Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead.
Walk beside me and be my friend. — Albert Camus
We all need friends. Friends enrich our lives in so many ways. But did you know that friends can actually save your life?
Canadian author and psychologist Susan Pinker argues that friends are critical to our health and well-being, especially as we age. Indeed, the lack of close personal friendships may shorten our lives faster than cigarettes, salt, sugar and animal fat. Real time, face to face contact, can help us to live healthier and longer lives. Chatting with friends on the porch or over the back fence, playing cards once a week, meeting friends every Tuesday morning at the coffee shop, having friends over to dinner regularly, or going to choir practice every week, can actually lengthen your life and bring you more happiness. And get this, study after study shows that these kinds of activities will do far more to promote health and longevity than “slathering on the sunscreen, downing fistfuls of vitamins, practicing mindfulness meditation, or sweating it out at the gym or with hot yoga.” So, don’t believe Sartre when he said, “Hell is other people.” And never mind what the late comedian George Burns said when he quipped, “happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family -– in another city.” According to numerous studies in this field, it just ain’t so. Moreover, says Pinker, you can forget all that nonsense that says that worry and working hard will kill you. The only thing that will kill you is doing it alone.
What’s more: joining together with others in worship every Sunday actually has a positive impact on your health. It may even help you to live longer and live happier!