The Impact of Relationships on Your Health

November 12 2012

In Reid’s latest LinkedIn post, he explains why relationships matter to your career. But beyond being good for your career, there is at least one other benefit: friends keep you alive. Several studies have shown that, all else equal, you have a better chance of beating a disease if you enjoy the support of friends.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco looked at the survival rates among women diagnosed with breast cancer. They found that women without ten or more friends were four times as likely to die during the test period than those with the close friends. Another study in Australia showed that those with many friendships live longer and healthier than those without similar social networks.

For those of us not dying from cancer, friends do more than just keep us healthy; they make us happy. In recent years, psychologists and gurus have paraded onto morning talk shows bearing myriad theories of happiness. Their talking points vary, but they agree on one thing: human relationships, especially good friends, are the leading predictor of a happy existence.

They matter so much that you’d be wise to value these relationships over near any level of professional achievement. “[O]ne of the key findings,” David Brooks once concluded in a column summarizing studies of well-being, “is that, just as the old sages predicted, worldly success has shallow roots while interpersonal bonds permeate through and through.”