Having Younger Friends Could Be Key To Personal Happiness

When it comes to age gaps within dating relationships, many are quick to say that age is just a number. Of course, multiple decades apart may get a few looks, but dating someone 10 to 15 years older or younger is quite common and acceptable these days. However, there still seems to be a negative stigma regarding large age gaps within platonic friendships. The reality is, strong friendships can impact your life in many ways. Just one example is how finding a fitness friend can increase your exercise motivation and lead to other healthy habits.

Oftentimes, it's far less common to see close friends of varying generations. This is likely because many of the lifelong friends you have are made in elementary school, high school, or even college. The people you grew up learning with are all around the same age, which is done purposefully because maturity levels in children can change drastically within just a few years because of their social, emotional, and intellectual development.

While different jobs can provide the opportunity to associate with people of all different ages, those who seek out new friends often look for people in a similar stage of life. Although, experts emphasize how beneficial it actually is to form a friendship with someone much younger than you.

Don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone

It can be awkward or uncomfortable to initiate a friendship with someone generations behind you but these emotions likely stem from a fear of aging that society has instilled in you. The mass media is always looking for young, fresh faces. By the time you hit your mid-20s, it can feel like a race to slow down the aging process and hold on to your youth. Interestingly, finding younger friends puts less emphasis on the comparison game and focuses more on the depth and value that a different dynamic can bring into your life.

Friendship expert Shasta Nelson explained to Well + Good that forming a strong connection with someone that grew up in a different generation has the unique ability to expand your mindset, change your worldview, and even help you see the world through a more optimistic lens. With each decade, it can seem like you are living in a different world, with its own unique set of pros and cons. However, it can be nice to be transported to a different time for a while.

Older generations are often deemed wiser and more experienced while younger generations get labeled spontaneous or carefree. When these two perspectives merge into a friendship, massive mindset shifts can take place.

Happiness is tied to friendship

The truth is, you feel younger when you associate with younger people. Whether you are in your 60s or 30s, embracing the energy that comes from younger friendships is powerful. The Mayo Clinic explains how having strong and supportive people around you actually improves your well-being, and there are many signs that someone is really your friend. Since quality friendships can help you relieve stress and find support amidst difficult times, gaining a sense of belonging within a multigenerational group can be invaluable.

According to Entity, creating fellowship among various social groups is actually the key to "anti-aging" because it leads to improvements in psychological health, which sociologists also refer to as "social integration." Studies show a mental, emotional, and physical decline associated with aging in isolation. Plus, it's highly recommended to analyze your social life in your 20s and 30s because it's largely correlated to your future well-being.

Since younger people tend to have a knack for networking and building community, it's important to keep an open mind when it comes to making friends that seem "too young." In actuality, these friendships can keep you vibrant and healthy. While you may view yourself as a mentor to someone younger, think of a younger friendship as a "reverse mentor" dynamic. There is a lot of value that can be gleaned from people of various ages, so keeping an open mind with your friendship age gaps could be the key to your happiness.