Friendship is magic, according to the good people of My Little Pony. More than just a catchy phrase, there really is something about the bond between two or more people.

In fact, August 4th is friendship day, and why shouldn’t we celebrate friends? Good friends are like family. Good friends may be better than family, if the biological family in question is dysfunctional, unsupportive, or even toxic. Friends may foster our mental health and even our physical health. Having friends may help in so many ways:

Friends Keep You Honest

Your best friends will be honest with you, even when you don’t want to hear what they have to say. Superficially, they will tell you if that outfit doesn’t work for you. Crucially, they will tell you if you they think your partner is mistreating you or if you’ve been drinking too much and need help.

Other people may help you check yourself before you wreck yourself. They may help you before things get out of hand and you can do the same for them.

Friends Assist Each Other

After all, friends help each other. This assistance provides benefits to the friends receiving the help. It may also help the person or people who are providing the help.

Helping people is giving back and is being useful. People like to feel useful and to feel as if they have purpose. If friends take turns helping each other, such assistance may strengthen the friendship, because they know that other people have their backs and that they can provide similar help when needed.

Given the power of numbers, it’s no surprise that support groups are a popular way that people provide assistance. Groups exist for people who are recovering from addictions, dealing with grief, facing mental health challenges, and addressing other issues.

Friends Make You Laugh

Ideally, your friends will make you laugh and laugh hard. It’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t like to laugh, and really, would you want to spend time with him or her?

“Let us begin to consider that, along with eating your vegetables and getting enough sleep, laughter is a sound prescription as a wonderful way to enhance health,” wrote William B. Strean, who also noted that “half of the fun in laughter, as well as healing, is sharing it.” Sharing laughter with friends is a fun, easy way to enhance your health.

To find friends, consider being a friend to yourself first. That is, decide what you like to do and do it. Your enthusiasm may lead you to pursue different interests and connect with others. To find these passions, you may:

  • Take a class or attend a lecture.
  • Volunteer in your community.
  • Join a group on Meetup.com.
  • Attend religious services.
  • Participate in a political cause.

Interacting with others is vital to staying happy, connected, and mentally and physically fit. Come to think of it, friendship truly IS magic, on August 4th and the entire year long.

About the author: Pamela Zuber is a writer and editor who has written about a wide variety of topics, including physical and mental health, addiction, politics, and gender.

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