Friends are increasingly important to our health and happiness as we age. Studies show friendships increase our well-being, longevity and life-satisfaction. People with strong social bonds have less chronic inflammation.
What is it that sparks the chemistry between friends?
New research digs deep into the roots of friendship: Friendships blossom because of similarities – age, religion, education, lifestyle etc. However, you can have all these things in common and still not “click”.
The New York Times reports, friends resemble each other in the very structures of their brains. Using MRI scans, subject’s brains were analyzed and strong correlation was found in the brain’s neural activity of friends. Researchers could predict the strength of a social bond between people, based on observing their brain scans while watching short videos.
We may naturally be drawn to certain people based on similarities in our brain chemistry – what in the 60’s we called ‘good vibes’.
Can you make good friends, even if there doesn’t seem to be an immediate chemistry? Absolutely! The first step is to learn how to have a great conversation.
Here are three tips to get you started:
1. Ask questions. Ask about their interests and challenges. Show interest and take the conversation deeper without being intrusive.
2. Listen and try not to judge. It doesn’t mean you agree with everything they say. This indicates you are taking the time to understand what their needs and aspirations are.
3. Show interest with follow-up questions. Such as, “How did you arrive at that?”
Your optimism challenge:
Take the time to nurture your friendships. Plan to see one of your friends this week and have a great conversation. If you’re looking to spark more chemistry between friends, download my handout Going for the Gold – To Make a Friend be a Friend for 14 more tips on how to establish and maintain friendships.
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