December 5, 2012

The power of friendship.

Life is mysterious in how it brings me what I need when I need it.  I don't ask, sometimes I certainly don't know what I need, but there it is, something to quench my thirst or heal a wound or get me ready for an upcoming difficulty.  Such was another Wow meeting, as usual a yummy potluck, girlish giggles around the table, and then the speaker with a message I so needed to hear, right then.

We had the pleasure of meeting Jodi Behn, a licensed marriage and family therapist on whose brochure is written, "Explore, heal, grow, and enjoy your life fully."  (You can reach Jodi at Mending Hearts Family Counseling, 805-581-6161, on the internet at, or via email at After she agreed to speak to our group, she thought about a topic and decided upon friendship.  Of course, the Wow group is just that, a place for women to be friends, to have a safe place to share and realize we all go through struggles and triumphs in life, and a place to grow and learn.  So I was quite interested in the idea of learning about the actual physiological benefits of friendship.

Jodi shared that, when we shake hands and hug, as we so often do at our meetings, a chemical Oxytocin is created in our bodies, which promotes our desire to tend to one another.  Human touch actually disarms, promotes bonding, and helps reduce social fears.  It makes women want to care and makes us feel better, acts like an antidepressant, and increases generosity and empathy. Friendships shape us, fill emotional gaps, counteract stress, and help us to know ourselves. Friendships keep us socially engaged, make us happier, help us live longer, and boost our immune systems. Friendships lower our rates of disease, promote longer lives and give us a sense of belonging and purpose.

I did create this group seven years ago so that I could make more women friends.  The women in Wow are eclectic and represent a broad range of personalities and interests, yet our meetings find us laughing and sharing and leaving feeling enriched.  Even though many of us only see each other once a month, I now realize what a profound affect such an evening together has on our health and happiness.  Many thanks to the lovely Jodi, smart and kind and delightful company, to help us understand ourselves in such a meaningful way.