Yes, you read the title correctly. I couldn’t believe it either when I first read it from Relevant Magazine’s website. In the past I’ve heard having a solid group of friends can ward off depression, boost self-esteem, and ultimately make you live longer (20% longer by some reports), but more powerful than morphine??? Here’s part of the article from relevant magazine.com:
Scientists at the University of Oxford have confirmed having friends is better than some painkillers at making you feel better. According to the new research, published in Scientific Reports, individuals who have lots of close friends have higher pain tolerances than people who don’t, and being around them provides a more-powerful-than-expected endorphin rush.
One theory, known as 'the brain opioid theory of social attachment’ (fancy shmancy wording), is that social interactions trigger positive emotions when endorphin binds to opioid receptors in the brain. This gives us that feel-good factor that we get from seeing our friends. The endorphin effect is so intense, that the team found that being with a friend group is a more effective painkiller than morphine itself.
I’m not suggesting you never take pain meds or other meds in that case, but I think we often underestimate the importance of having quality community in our life. In a world where individualism is highly stressed (anyone remember the failed marketing attempt of “Army of One”) it’s easy to miss the necessity of pouring our lives into others and allowing them to pour into us. So, just in case you needed another reason to be with and be a good friend, they might just save your life one day…or at least bring much needed relief.
This is what VLA strives to build in its year with the Seekers and their community, with the understanding that like the main picture it takes time, and with the knowledge that there is truly no greater, powerful, positive, or long lasting relationship than that of the one you are beckoned to have with your Creator.
Just in case you needed further, older proof…
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. -Proverbs 18:24
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. -Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. -John 15:13
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. -Proverbs 27:17