Friends have the ability to relieve intense pain. Without a doubt, they become our guardian angels. Not just physically, but psychologically too. Because of this, we say that friends are a natural pain killer for our suffering.
There is scientific evidence related to the negative effects of solitude and the lack of moral support. These factors can be as harmful as tobacco, high cholesterol, obesity, and a lack of exercise.
Because of this, it’s good to encourage having friends. We encourage emotional ties, involvement and other things that feed our emotional bonds.
These bonds give us a foundation to build and increase our happiness on. At the same time, it can help to cut our pain in half.
Lasting emotional bonds, a solid foundation
Many times we deceive ourselves into being alone. We think we prefer to distance ourselves from others. Some reasons we give are the fear of pain, failure, and the lies others tell. But, without a doubt, this tears us down.
However, happiness that increases our well-being can come from several sources. One source, for example, is having people we trust. Having loved ones by our side makes us psychologically stronger.
Also, having a shoulder to cry on softens the blow when things go bad. Stress can come from many events. Some of the most notable are losing a loved one or divorce.
The sole presence of these people in our lives helps us to fight. Their presence reduces the impact of bad times.
So, the quality and amount of time spent with our friends is key. Their words can calm our hearts. This is especially important when suffering starts to overwhelm us.
Psychologist and scientist James Pennebaker is one of the star figures in this field. This is thanks to his work in validating and quantifying something very important: he says that getting together with friends strengthens our health.
Friends are a natural morphine
Using a questionnaire, they asked 101 young adults about the number and quality of their relationships. They also asked about personality traits involved.
Afterward, they gave each person a test. Each person was asked to sit in an uncomfortable position for a long time. The objective of this test was to make the subjects get cramps and feel discomfort and pain.
The scientists discovered an interesting result. Those who have more friends were better able to stand the pain than the other subjects.
So, if we look over the data, we get other neurological studies that all say the same thing. Humans are social animals.
In many different ways, we discover our brains are socially programmed. We have a complete neural-chemical system that is in charge of interpersonal relationships: This is the endogenous opioid system which uses beta-endorphins.
Knowing you are loved is a wonderful feeling
“I was not aware of it at the time, of course, but knowing what I know now, it is impossible for me to look back on those days without feeling a surge of nostalgia for my friends.
I had jumped off the edge of a cliff, and then, just as I was about to hit the bottom, an extraordinary event took place: I learned that there were people who loved me. To be loved like that makes all the difference.
It does not lessen the terror of the fall, but it gives a new perspective of what that terror means. I had jumped off of the edge, and then, at the very last moment something reached out and caught me in midair. That something is what I define as love.
It is the one thing that can stop a man from falling, the one thing powerful enough to negate the laws of gravity.”
The wonderful feeling of having an emotional safety rope that protects us can’t be compared with anything. Knowing we are loved gives us hope. It also strengthens and revitalizes us.
So, we encourage having friends. This fills the world with magic and makes it a better place to live in.
Goleman, D. (2001). Inteligencia emocional. Editorial Kairós. Barcelona.
Johnson, K. & Dunbar, R. (2016) “Pain tolerance predicts human social network size”. Scientific Reports; 6: 25267.
Inagaki, T. K. et al (2015) “Blocking opioids attenuates physical warmth-induced feelings of social connection”. Emotion; 15: 494–500.
Auster, P. (1989) Moon Palace, page 50