Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Grace from Mt. Pleasant , MI. Grace Wonders, “Why do we like having friends?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Grace !
Many kids have friends. There are always a few of those friends, though, who are a bit closer than the rest. You might refer to them as your BFFs, especially if you tend to hang out together all the time.
Have you ever thought about why we make friends? After all, do we really need friends? Couldn't we get along just fine by ourselves?
Sure, we all like to be alone every now and then. It can be nice to enjoy some peace and quiet or get some rest and relaxation without anyone else around. But, before long, we yearn for the company of other people. For most of us, being alone gets lonely and boring after a while.
Scientists who have studied relationships in depth have found that people with good friends tend to live longer lives. They also tend to be healthier. Good friendships have been associated with lower levels of stress, decreased blood pressure, and a reduced risk of depression.
Why would friendships have such important benefits? Some scientists believe it's a simple answer. Friends help us and support us through the ups and downs of life. When you have good friends looking out for you, it's easier to deal with the trials that life throws your way.
When you're young, it's much easier to make friends. In school, you're surrounded by people your age with similar interests. Interacting with your peers all throughout the day, it's only natural to form multiple friendships with fellow students.
As you grow older, though, the number of close friends you have tends to decline. This is natural, and the decreases usually correspond to major life events. As you graduate, get a job, and become a parent, the number of people with similar interests around you tends to decrease. Life also gets very busy. Close friendships get harder to maintain.
Even if you have fewer friends as you grow older, they can become even closer friends than you had when you had several BFFs on the playground. It's also possible to make new friends as you grow older if you work at it.
We tend to pick friends who share similar interests. Scientists have recently learned that there might be more to it than meets the eye, though.
If friends feel like family, it's because researchers have learned that people tend to be more like their friends genetically than they are to strangers. Studies show that friends are as genetically similar as fourth cousins!
Scientists learned that the genes friends were most likely to have in common were related to smell. In other words, we tend to smell things the way our friends do. Does that seem weird? Scientists believe it makes sense, since people drawn to certain smells, such as coffee, might be likely to hang around the same places and thus become friends.
On the other hand, friends tend to have very different genes related to their immune systems. Scientists believe this gives friends extra protection. For example, if you're susceptible to a particular ailment, but your friend is not, then they likely won't get it and therefore won't pass it on to you. Isn't friendship great?