Does having less friends make you happier?
Updated: Feb 13
If you want to be happy and make things happen, let go of the people and relationships that are holding you back.
Decluttering applies to all areas of our lives, not just the 'stuff' in it, but also the relationships that no longer make us happy or hold us back. This is one of the hardest areas of your life to declutter and can be a sensitive subject for some people. Decluttering in any area of your life can be challenging, but is a highly rewarding experience.
Just the same as with our 'stuff', we hold onto relationships that no longer serve a purpose in our lives because we have a fear of letting go to an attachment. We like to keep within our comfort zones and believe that it's easier to have it, than to have to make a decision about letting it go.
Life is too short to be around people who don’t make you feel good about yourself! We have limited time and energy so why choose to spend it on people who don’t make you happy? Be more conscious about how much of your valuable resources that you invest in people who no longer enhance your life.
This isn't about upsetting or offending anyone, just a reminder to be more intentional about which people that you invest time and energy in, and not worry so much about the others.
Friendships are vital to our overall health, wellbeing and happiness. Analysis of very happy people found that the thing that united them was strong ties to family and close friends and a commitment to spending real face time with them. Study after study has found that the quality of our close friendships is one of the most important factors in determining our overall stability, mood, ambition, emotional range, growth and satisfaction in life.
We have so many types of relationships to manage - with our family, friends, colleagues at work, professional acquaintances, employees, friends from your childhood and school, neighbours, people that you have met through hobbies. Because of the number of different relationships that we have to manage, there will always be negative people who drain your energy that we have to deal with, we can't necessarily choose all the people in our lives but we can choose how much of our time and energy they take up.
Now that social media ,such as Facebook, plays a big part in our lives we can have 1,000s of “friends” from all over the world if we want to. This is not about Facebook or other social media friends - this is about your real friends.
Research has shown that the maximum number of relationships that humans can effectively manage is 150. People tend to have between five and 10 people that are closest to them, the next level of closeness involves another 15 people, then 50 and then 150. Nearly all the wellbeing and happiness benefits come from the 5 and 20 people closest to you, definitely not the 500+ Facebook friends that you may have, or even the 50 or 150 that you may have on your Christmas card list. Only quality time spent with your closest family and friends will have a direct impact on your happiness, health and longevity.
• You're not comfortable and your genuine self when you are with them • Is ALWAYS moaning or telling you how hard their life is. closest to them, the next level of closeness involves another 15 people, then 50 and then 150. Nearly all the wellbeing and happiness benefits come from the 5 and 20 people closest to you, definitely not the 500+ Facebook friends that you may have, or even the 50 or 150 that you may have on your Christmas card list. contact them or make an effort to see them". Be honest, are you not keeping in contact with them because you don’t actually feel that close to them, and don’t feel that they add much value to your life. Don’t make excuses about not having enough time, you don’t make time for people that are not a priority in your life.
Getting together with large groups of people at a party or social gathering can be fun and is great to have a catch up with the people in your outer social circle, but don’t let managing these relationships take priority away from your closest friends. Having more friends should not come at the expense of our few closest relationships. Focus on the relationships that really matter.
"We need to guard against the ready distraction of the hundreds, stealing our attention from the private moments with those who share our journey."
The quality of your friends far outweighs the benefits of the number of friends that you have. Research around the world has shown that those people who popularity was more important to them were less happy, less healthy, more depressed and used more drugs. Those who placed their importance on deepening and building close relationships were the complete opposite.
We wrongly can gauge success and happiness on having more friends, but that isn't the case with relationships.
Leaving behind friends and relationships that no longer serve you is an important skill to learn. When you let go of friends and relationships that you have grown out of, you make space for new ones that better fit with where you are and what you need at this point in your life. Too many bad friendships can prevent us from having good ones.
People come and go from our lives – it is what happens during your time together that will decide whether you become long term friends, just acquaintances or even business partners, but they don’t always have to stay forever.
"Love makes the world go around, but it is definitely people that make the ride worthwhile".
Here is a list to help you decide if you should let go of certain friendships….
Think about decluttering anyone who (or at least spending too much of your energy on)…
• You're not comfortable and your genuine self when you are with them, and feel that you have to change.
• Makes you feel drained or depressed every time that you see them. • Is ALWAYS moaning or telling you how hard their life is. • Tries to compete with or be better than you. • The friendship keeps you stuck and you support each other in gossiping, complaining or justifying yourselves. • Makes you feel angry, dejected or criticised. • Your relationship with feels superficial. • Doesn't take you or your ideas, goals and plans seriously. • Don't make you feel as if you can achieve anything. • Your relationship with is ALWAYS one-sided. (Sometimes one person may need more from you than you need from them, but over time you should have a balanced relationship). • You don’t really enjoy spending time with, it's become more of a habit. Keep people in your life who…
Also, ask yourself - If I met this person today would they be someone I would choose to have a relationship with? Or How would your life be without that person in it? By answering these questions honestly, you can discover a lot about yourself and your circles of friends.u, help you to grow and chase your dreams. • Cares about your emotions and wellbeing. • You can trust them with anything. • You feel that you can confide in, and be completely honest with about things that upset you or you are worried about. • You really look forward to seeing and feel genuinely happy when you are with them on a regular basis. • Can tell you the truth when they need to. We don’t always want to hear the truth, but sometimes we have to for our own good. • Remind you how wonderful life can be. • Expose you to new ideas and adventures. • Celebrate your successes, but are also there for you when things don’t quite work out. • Your relationship with has deepened over time. • Drop everything to support you in a crisis and you would do the same for them.
Also ask yourself - If I met this person today would they be someone I would choose to have a relationship with? Or How would your life be without that person in it? By answering these questions honestly, you can discover a lot about yourself and your circles of friends. How to declutter… Friendships require energy to keep them going, when you feel that you have outgrown a friendship you simply need to withdraw the time and energy that you put into it. Take a long time to respond to messages and be less available to them, and the friendship with naturally start to drift away. When planning your social diary, always allocate your time to the people in your closest circle and work your way out.
Don’t try stress too much about overthinking friendships, your gut instinct about how a person makes you feel is nearly always right. You should feel good about proactively managing your friendships. It's an area that is important in your happiness, but an area in which most people don't do proactive anything about.
Remember - Don’t take any of your friendships for granted (people come into your life for a reason). You have to put enough into the relationship yourself to get anything back. Focus more of your time and energy to the important friendships in your life, be open to meeting new people, share real thoughts and feelings, ambitions and adventures.
Excercise Write down the names of all of the friendships that you can think of and put them into groups of closeness. You can note them down on a piece of paper or print off the Social Circle Printable to help you.
1.) Write down your closest friends - best friends, your inner circle (usually about 5-10 people). The friends that you confide in and who you would choose to spend your time with.
2.) Then then next group of about 15 people. The ones that you wouldn’t necessarily tell all of your secrets and problems to, but you still enjoying spending time with, socialising with and contact on a regular basis. Have a look at who you met in person, phoned or messaged directly over the last couple of months.
3.) Then the 50 and so on names that come into head. Place them in the group or circle that you think they belong.
4.) Have a look over what you have written down and make sure that they should be in the groups that you have assigned them to. Read the people to keep, people to declutter and questions to ask if you're not sure.
Other things to think about…. Are there any relationships that need to drift away? Are there any that people that you want to bring in closer and spend more time with? Part of this exercise might be to reconnect with old friends. Do you spend enough time with your friends and other relationships that make you happy? Are you happy with the friendship circles that you have or do you need to find some new friends? How often do you see your close friends in person? How often do you speak to them? How well do these friends really know you? Who do you need to arrange a date with?
Do this exercise as often as you feel you need to, but at least once per year. Keep a copy in your journal or planner folder to look back on and to see how your friendship circles naturally change over time.
Make sure that you spend quality time with at least one of your close friends each month. Add it to your planner or to do list a regular reminder.
Make it a monthly habit to check in with your favourite people.