A New Study Says Friends Might Be More Important Than Family

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Friends are important. Friends are really, really important. But are they more important than family? According to a new study by a researcher at Michigan State University, they very well might be.

Scholar William Chopik has been doing extensive studies into friendship and his findings are pretty informative. What'd he find? That the older we get the more important our friendships are as predictors of happiness.

"Friendships become even more important as we age," Chopik said in the journal Personal Relationships. "Keeping a few really good friends around can make a world of difference for our health and well-being. So it's smart to invest in the friendships that make you happiest."

Of course family is important too, but for many people family comes with stress, strain and feelings of obligation. Perhaps due to the optional nature of friendship, it breeds more happiness.

"Friendships help us stave off loneliness but are often harder to maintain across the lifespan," Chopik said. "If a friendship has survived the test of time, you know it must be a good one — a person you turn to for help and advice often and a person you wanted in your life." So even as you age and get busy and work more and more, hang on to your friends; they really do make your life that much better.