I just finished reading the book "Friendfluence" by Carlin Flora. Here's a little glimpse into the book. Enjoy!
We find a few characteristics generally attractive in potential friends, notes Daniel Hruschka in his anthropological and psychological survey of friendship: “These include a reputation for helping, high status, and interpersonal similarity in social class, ethnicity, and personal attitudes.” Moreover, just knowing someone likes you makes you like him or her more. “The level of similarity between two potential friends is directly proportional to the chance that a friendship will be launched,” write the authors of Friends Forever. These similarities include gender, ethnicity, attitudes, beliefs, and values.
Friendships sprout much earlier than you might think. A one-year-old who has the chance to interact regularly with other little ones will indeed choose favorite playmates— first friends. Toddler buddies frolic in more complex ways than do non- friends. They might engage in pretend play, such as acting out “mom and baby,” which requires more cognitive skills than tag or other literal pursuits. In one study, the first time any of the children being observed switched over to symbolic play was always with a friend rather than with an acquaintance.
Young kids look for playmates who enjoy the same fun things they like to do and who are pretty easy to get along with. Starting around age 10, though, a friend becomes someone who is not just a convenient companion with nice toys, but rather a person who is recognized for his or her values—such as the ability to stand up for others—as Rubin points out in his book for parents, The Friendship Factor. Once they reach the age of 11 or 12, kids expect a measure of concern and thoughtfulness from their pals. Bonds are not just based on shared experiences anymore; they are sealed with emotional revelations and repeated instances of “getting” one another.
What makes a kid likable? It’s unfair, but appearances matter; attractive children are especially likable. It helps to have a name other children find appealing, too. And in accordance with the rigid kid rule of self-imposed gender segregation, young people like boys who play as boys “should” (girls are allowed a little more role flexibility). Likable children size up new situations on the playground or in the classroom and fit themselves into the scene. They are assertive, but not hostile. They do not talk about themselves too much, and they communicate clearly. They are kind, helpful, generous, and thoughtful. They are warm and pleasant and tend to have a sense of humor. Unsurprisingly, they are able to readily make and maintain friendships.
It is no news flash that friends make us happy, but Meliksah Demir, Ph.D., a professor at Northern Arizona University, has drilled down to reveal exactly what about friendship warms our hearts. It turns out that companionship—simply doing things together—is the component of friendship that most makes us happy. And the reason friends make us happy, Demir has concluded, is that they make us feel that we matter.
Just spending time with your friends can reduce your stress levels. Specifically, women feel less anxious as the result of a progesterone surge that comes on when they feel close to a friend. Laughing with friends can increase physical pain thresholds by about 10 percent, and having a friend with you, or even merely imagining a friend, can reduce blood pressure. Older adults concerned about memory loss should start calling up their friends: Elderly people with active social lives are much less likely to experience cognitive decline and dementia.
As complex and cutting as friendships can be, the worst influence of all is perhaps a total lack of friendfluence. Social neuroscientist John Cacioppo, Ph.D., describes loneliness as the fallout of not fulfilling a biological need for social contact, one almost as strong as thirst or hunger. Thanks to his work, we know that loneliness is associated with the progression of disease, alcoholism, and suicidal ideation. Exposing yourself to the vulnerabilities that come with intimacy, withstanding the discomfort of connecting to people who are different from you, and striving to assert your true self among pals eager to sway you in other directions are most certainly worthwhile struggles compared to the bleak alternative of friendlessness.
What would a society that truly recognized friendfluence look like? For one thing, it would not hold the individual responsible for everything. Shoring up your willpower is a noble goal, but it is very difficult. Acknowledging our ability to help one another in these areas might make us more successful in meeting our goals. Mother Nature does not want you to finish a paper for school or lose weight, per se. She could care less. She built you to fit in with your “tribe,” though. So if you befriend those who are already accomplishing what you have been independently struggling to achieve, your habits will more easily converge with theirs. And aside from all of the subtle behavioral and moral influences we’ve unearthed, direct help from friends is also an underutilized resource. Ask more of your friends for aid and support and you will give them the gift of feeling influential.
In order to fully tap the power of friendship, we should collectively spend less time emphasizing the differences between male and female friendships and more time acknowledging that everyone could benefit from stronger friendships.
Parents of young kids should understand that social skills and the ability to sustain friendships taught by unstructured play might be more important than the kind of learning that occurs through structured activities that do not let kids plan and sort things out among themselves. Parents of teens should get the message that the peer group will often trump them and that it is better to invite the gang over to strengthen ties rather than criticize their sons’ or daughters’ choices. A friendless child should get extra help from parents and teachers in getting off the downward spiral and onto the upward spiral of social connection. Adults in romantic relationships should value their own time with friends without guilt. Couples should cultivate mutual friends, and turn to others for support, fun, and inspiration, rather than put everything on a spouse. Singles should not automatically be judged as free-floating and disconnected, but as people who are very likely to have one or more “significant others” in their lives—of the friend variety.
Friends, clearly, are important for not only our social well-being, but our physical and cultural welfare. Hold your own friends up high, where they belong.
OK! That's it. If you're interested in reading more, you can purchase the book here: http://amzn.to/1QedqFy