Everything we do to succeed in our careers is improved when we’re supported by a foundation of strong, stable friendships. Basic research tells us this is so, yet many who focus on their careers run the risk of losing touch with their closest social connections.
Psychologists define close friends as those nonrelatives whose birthdays we celebrate, with whom we discuss intimate matters such as work or marital stress, and whom we might call upon for help with a move or a medical emergency.
These people are critical for both our psychological and physical well-being. The number and strength of our friendships has long been a consistent predictor of emotional well-being. And beyond the psychological benefits, friendships can influence our basic physiology, as shown by studies that link social connections to cellular-level protection against disease. We are less likely to catch a cold or suffer from acute stress responses if we have a solid network of friends. In a recent meta-analysis of 148 studies, having strong social relationships was associated with a 50% reduction in risk of mortality.
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