WORDS BY JANET STONE
MiNDFOOD Magazine (January 2023)
Out with the old and in with the new! A new year is a good time to start afresh, but should this include our friends? Friendships have proven key to our health and happiness, but when a friendship becomes detrimental to our wellbeing or becomes habitual with little joy, it may be time to consider cutting ties and making new, more meaningful and fulfilling connections.
The thought of breaking up with a friend might make your stress levels rise, but first it’s best to understand, and be comfortable with, the natural ebb and flow that inevitably happens in our relationships. Dana Kerford, Friendship Expert and Founder of URSTRONG, says, “It’s very normal that we sometimes grow apart from certain friends and that not all friendships are meant to last a lifetime.” Her URSTRONG program empowers kids with friendship skills to create communities of kindness in schools and the fact that ‘friendships change and that’s okay’ is Friendship Fact 4 within the programme. “When we teach kids about the four friendship facts, I tell them they apply to their lives now – and when they are an adult,” says Kerford. The other three friendship facts to understand when reviewing your friendships, are: No friendship or relationship is perfect; Every friendship is different; Trust and respect are the two most important qualities in a friendship.
Explains Kerford: “We know that trust and respect are the foundation of a healthy, feel-good friendship. As adults we know better than anybody else that when distrust or disrespect seeps into a relationship, that foundation gets cracked.”
It’s clear that who you surround yourself with is key to your happiness. “Friendships are an important source of happiness, wellbeing, physical health, and longevity,” states the 2019 research paper, ‘An exploratory study of friendship characteristics and their relations with hedonic and eudaimonic wellbeing’ in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Relationships with the people around us and the quality of those relationships sits in the top three of the seven key areas that impact our overall life satisfaction and wellbeing outlined in The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index. The World Happiness Report also includes ‘social support’ in its six variables used to assess happiness.