- Deseret News - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Over the weekend, Snapchat released an update that tells you who your best friend is on the app, Tech Crunch reported.

According to Snapchat, your best friends are the people you send the most snap photos to and those you engage with the most. The app also shows you which best friends you have in common with someone else, and who may see you as a best friend, even if you’re not best friends with them, Tech Crunch reported.

But a friend is more than just someone you send a selfie to on the weekends.

Here are five other reasons you should thank your best friend.

A best friend makes you healthier

Your best friend can make you feel healthier, according to polls from CBS. The polls found that children who had best friends were less stressed.

“When you have a best friend and you can express emotions it allows you to have a release and a connection to another human being,” Tammy Gold, a parenting expert, told CBS.

The study also said best friends make it less likely that children will be bullied and tormented because they have a friend there to defend them, CBS reported. This limits any mental or physical damage that comes from bullies.

Best friends teach children how to share and get along with others, too, which also makes them considerate of others, Ms. Gold said. Having these qualities helps children build healthy relationships with other people they meet in life.

This falls in line with a study from this past January that said good friends make people feel less stressed in new environments. The study, published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, found that people who move to new environments feel stressed about fitting in, which will increase their heart rates and impact their nervous systems, the New York Daily News reported.

But when those people find good friends, their stress decreases, and they are physically healthier, the study said.

A best friend makes you feel more self-worth

Youngsters who find themselves in traumatic or worrisome scenarios often seek out their best friends for guidance because best friends often make children feel more self-worth, according to a study cited by Medicine Net, a medical information website.

William Bukowski, a psychology professor at Concordia University in Montreal, told Medicine Net that best friends have a deeper connection than the typical friend, and that makes children feel a stronger bond and like they’re more important, which lessens their stress during a dramatic or troublesome scenario.

Self-worth also makes children feel more confident, which makes them more likely to tackle issues they may face in life, Mr. Bukowski said.

“Having a best friend present during an unpleasant event has an immediate impact on a child’s body and mind,” Mr. Bukowski told Medicine Net. “If a child is alone when he or she gets in trouble with a teacher or has an argument with a classmate, we see a measurable increase in cortisol levels and decrease in feelings of self-worth.”

A best friend listens to you

We’ve heard it before: Your best friend is always there for you. And that can help you get through some tough times, especially when they listen to you, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Elizabeth Bernstein.

William Doherty, a family therapist at the University of Minnesota, warns against best friends offering advice to others during difficult situations because people often seek their best friend for a sympathetic ear during those times, and not guidance, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Doherty believes the best course of action during challenging times is, simply, to listen to your friend without judgement.

“In his research, Dr. Doherty found people who confide in a friend say it is most helpful if the friend simply listens,” Ms. Bernstein reported. “Confidants also can help by giving emotional support and helping the confider put the situation in perspective. They often can help a person understand his or her contribution to the problem or where the spouse is coming from.”

A best friend is basically family

A study from the University of California at San Diego found last year that really close friends have similar DNA patterns, according to Time magazine. The genetics are similar to that of fourth cousins, Time reported.

So, yeah, best friends are basically family.

“This gives us a deeper accounting of the origins of friendship,” Nicholas Christakis, a professor of sociology at Yale, told Time magazine. “Not only do we form ties with people superficially like ourselves, we form ties with people who are like us on a deep genetic level. They’re like our kin, though they’re not.”

To find this, researchers compared the genetics of people who said they were best friends. They found that of the 1.5 million gene variants, best friends had as many as 1 percent of those variants in common — which is a lot, Time reported.

One of those variants, for example, is that best friends often have similar senses of smell, the study found.

A best friend will help you earn more money

Children with close friends will earn more money than their peers as adults, according to a study from the Royal Economic Society in the UK cited by The Independent. The study found those with a high number of friends earned 10 percent more than their colleagues.

Researchers used an American survey that followed the lives of high school students into adulthood and found that a student’s popularity had a positive impact on their paycheck as an adult. Those who had a lot of friends were viewed as a “key player” in their social circles, which means they had the social skills that could influence others. These characteristics bring success later on down the road, according to The Independent.

“Being a key player seems to pay back in terms of earnings at adult life,” the academics wrote, according to The Independent. “Social skills cannot simply be defined as ‘having friends,’ but include a strategic feature as well. Having social skills means (being) able to connect with other key players inside the network. In some sense, this can be seen as a learning process that one is unlikely to lose in the future.”

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