by Ainsley Lawrence,
Contributing Author, Conscious Reminder
Image Source: Pixabay
We all know that, as human beings, we have certain things we need to live: Food, water, oxygen. But that’s not all we need. We also need love. Connection. Community. We are, indeed, not just physical beings but social ones as well. However, if you want to truly optimize your mental and physical well-being, it’s not enough to have close connections with friends and loved ones. You also want to build a diverse friend group.
The Power of Enrichment
We all know that loneliness and isolation can take a profoundly detrimental toll on your well-being. But studies increasingly show that if your friend group isn’t just close but is also diverse, you’re going to have a far more enriching social network.
For instance, those who are neurodiverse often have highly distinct ways of perceiving the world, processing information differently, and frequently experiencing the sensory environment in ways that are far different from neurotypical persons. When you incorporate neurodiverse friends into your friend group, you will automatically begin to slough off the old, familiar patterns of seeing, doing, and thinking.
As you grow in your relationship with and understanding of your friend, you will, inevitably, begin seeing the world through new eyes. And that kind of novelty and enrichment can significantly enhance your emotional and psychological health.
Similarly, if you expand your friend group to include those with physical or mental illness, you can cultivate your powers of empathy and understanding. For instance, if you are building a relationship with a friend who has a mental illness, you will learn to communicate with your loved one on their own terms, with the sensitivity and respect they deserve. And, in the process, you may well gain a depth of understanding that better equips you to nurture your own mental and physical health.
It’s not only about expanding your friend group to cultivate new perspectives on life and the world. When you have a diverse friend group, you’ll inevitably learn unique ways to relate with your friends.
That includes learning to understand and to “speak” the particular love languages of your friends, the myriad ways that people use to show affection and caring. For example, love languages can shape the ways we express our feelings through the giving and receiving of gifts. Some friends may choose the traditional route, gifting you with objects they think you will enjoy. Others may feel that the truest way to express affection is to make something just for you, whether it’s a poem or a dinner of your favorite foods. And still others may choose to take you on an adventure, showing love by choosing to share an experience.
In addition to the benefits of a diverse friend group to your social and mental wellbeing, there’s also robust evidence that such a heterogeneous social network can significantly enhance your physical wellbeing. For example, there’s significant evidence that those with a large, diverse social group are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors and to eschew negative ones, such as smoking and excessive drinking. They may even have higher immune functioning, as research suggests that such people are less likely to catch a common cold!
We all know that it’s the relationships that we build with others that make life so rich. But when you have a diverse friend group, you are likely to enjoy even greater benefits. Your life will be enriched, your powers of empathy and understanding enhanced, and your physical, social, and mental wellbeing optimized. And that means you’re going to live not only healthier but also happier and more fully.
About the Author: Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer with an interest in balanced living through education and technology. She loves travelling to beautiful places and is frequently lost in a good book.
∼If you like our article, give Conscious Reminder a thumbs up, and help us spread LOVE & LIGHT!∼