The very first Friendship Day was proposed on July 20, 1958, by the founder of World Friendship Crusade (originally called Cruzada Mundial de la Amistad), which is an international civil organization that campaigns to foster peaceful culture through friendship, Ramón Artemio Bracho, at a dinner in Puerto Pinasco, Paraguay. It was not until July 27, 2011, that International Day of Friendship was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly and declared its day of observance to be celebrated every year on July 30. A driving factor in officially recognizing International Day of Friendship was the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures, and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. To mark the International Day of Friendship, the UN encourages governments, organizations, and community groups to hold events, activities and initiatives that promote dialogue, solidarity, mutual understanding, and reconciliation. International Day of Friendship specifically aims to involve young people, as future leaders, in community activities that include different cultures and promote international understanding and respect for diversity. It is also a day to celebrate and spend time with your friends.
Why Your Friends Are More Important Than You Think
Research has long shown the benefits of social connection for individual well-being. Experts suggest that not only do friends resemble each other superficially, but in the very structures of their brains. According to the New York Times, “scientists have found that the brains of close friends respond in remarkably similar ways as they view a series of short videos: the same ebbs and swells of attention and distraction, the same peaking of reward processing here, boredom alerts there…[and] could predict the strength of two people’s social bond based on their brain scans alone.” Good friends celebrate your successes and offer support in times of despair. They stick with you and provide companionship throughout the highs and lows of your life. The Mayo Clinic asserts that friends can:
- Prevent isolation and loneliness
- Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
- Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
- Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
- Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
- Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise
People that maintain social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network. Adults with strong social connections have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, such as depression, high blood pressure, and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Further, studies have found that older adults who have meaningful relationships and social support are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.
How To Celebrate
International Day of Friendship is an excellent reminder of the importance of nurturing your friendships. Take inventory of your priorities and allocate time in your schedule for some fun activities with your friends. There is no right or wrong way to observe International Day of Friendship. If you need a little inspiration, consider the following suggestions:
- Call a friend that you have lost touch with and rekindle your friendship
- Send thoughtful notes and messages to your friends
- Give a hug to someone you like
- Exchange small International Day of Friendship gifts (e.g., card, flowers, cupcake, friendship bracelet, framed photo of you and your friend, etc.)
- Watch a movie about friendship with a friend
- Meet a friend for lunch, dinner, or happy hour
- Go on an adventure with your friends (e.g., hiking, visiting a part, going to the beach, camping, etc.)
Friends play a significant role in promoting your overall health, so take advantage of International Day of Friendship. Use this day to begin to focus on enriching the meaning and effectiveness of the friendships in your daily life.
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