Kenzoku is a Japanese word that when translated means family. But its definition suggests a deeper meaning; that it is a bond between humans dedicated to sharing the same story. In other words, this implies that Kenzoku is the deepest connection of friendship. It is camaraderie, the family that you choose for yourself.

In the hierarchy of relationships, friendships are at the bottom. Romantic partners, parents, children—all these come first. So as we age, friendships often fall to the back-burner, and over time, they may burn out.

However, true friendships have a way of withstanding time. You can go long periods of time without seeing or talking to each other, and then pick right back up where you left off. The thing is, it’s in your best interest not to let that happen.

Time and time again research has found that social interactions with friends offer significant benefits to our physical and mental well-being. In fact, having strong, healthy bonds with other people has been shown to relax the nervous system, strengthen the brain (keeping it healthier longer), and reduce the impact of both emotional and physical pain.

But what if you don’t have many or any true friends?

The good news is, you can create these types of friendships at any point in your life. While having a history with a person tends to create a strong bond, it isn’t the only thing that matters. Common interests, values, and life experience as well as being someone who listens and is dependable are key aspects to forming strong friendships. And of course, enjoying each other’s company.

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