By Matt Friend

You’ve tried drinking more green tea, watching the sun rise, streaming more comedies, or going shopping. “If only,” you’ve thought, “I could spend more time playing with my dog, lying in a hammock, living in the moment, or visiting the beach. Then, I would enjoy life more!”

All of these are good. Actually, they’re all great! However, none of them reveal the primary way to enjoy life more.

The #1 way to enjoy life more is to develop deeper, more meaningful friendships.

How do we know this is true?

The lab says so.

Our society tends to place an emphasis on romantic relationships. We think that finding Mr. or Ms. Right will make us happy and fulfilled. But research shows that friends are actually even more important to our psychological welfare. Friends bring more happiness into our lives than almost anything else.

Our society tends to place an emphasis on romantic relationships... but friends bring more happiness into our lives than almost anything else. Click To Tweet

Friendships have a huge impact on our overall health and happiness. Good friends relieve stress, provide contentment and joy, and prevent loneliness. Developing close friendships can also have a powerful impact on our physical health. Lack of social connection may pose as much of a risk as smoking, drinking too much or leading a sedentary lifestyle.

Friends are even tied to living a longer life. One Swedish study found that maintaining a rich network of friends can add significant years to your life.

Life says so.

Fast forward to the end of your life. In your final hours, on what will you be meditating? What will have brought you the most joy?

  • Your work?
  • Your hobbies?
  • Your accomplishments?
  • Your money?

No. None of these.

At the end of our lives, we’ll mostly be thinking about the people closest to our hearts: our family and our friends. The amount of joy in your life­––both now and at the end––is directly connected to the quality of your friendships.

The Lord says so.

The people in my church have come to believe that Jesus is the greatest teacher to have ever walked the earth. Shortly before Jesus faced His executioners, He said…

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:9-13 NIV)

Jesus knew that our greatest desire is to be connected to someone else. Like pieces of a puzzle seeking their adjoining pieces, we long for connections that will assure us that we belong. We want people to share our lives. We want spiritual friends.

Knowing we could never make this happen perfectly on our own, Jesus was born in Bethlehem two millennia ago, lived the perfect life we could never live, sacrificed Himself on our behalf by dying on a cross outside Jerusalem, arose from the dead on Easter morning, and lives today to save anyone who calls on His name.

Whether that’s your conclusion or not, one thing is true for every man, woman, and child…

The #1 way to enjoy life more is to develop deeper, more meaningful friendships.

The #1 way to enjoy life more is to develop deeper, more meaningful friendships. Click To Tweet

But close friendships don’t just happen. They take work. Trial and error. Give and take.

Whatever your age or circumstances, it’s never too late to make new friends, reconnect with old ones, and greatly improve your social life, emotional health, and overall well-being.

The late C. S. Lewis said it best, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’”

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one. -CS Lewis Click To Tweet

 

Matt Friend, a Charleston native and tenth generation West Virginian, graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has served in pastoral ministry since 2002 and at Bible Center Church since March 1, 2016 (as our sixth Lead Pastor). He and Sarah (his high school sweetheart) are raising two teenage daughters, Katie and Riley, and a son, Kadyn. Together, they are advocates for adoption and all things West Virginia. In his free time, he enjoys reading, exercising with friends, and spending time with his family and two dogs, Queso and Sabi.

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