Happiness and good friends

Happiness and good friends

If you want to be happy, make sure you have at least 10 friends – or so we’re told by the latest research

Julian Baggini


Sunday October 26 2008

“In these uncertain economic times, it is important to remember just how greatly friends can contribute to your general wellbeing and happiness.” This earth-shattering conclusion has been reached by Dr Richard Tunney, a psychologist at the University of Nottingham two millennia after Aristotle declared, somewhat more pithily: “The happy man needs friends.”

Tunney, however, has gone one further than Aristotle and worked out how many friends we should have. The great Greek advised having “as many as are enough for the purpose of living together”. Tunney avoids such obfuscation and says the optimal number of friends is 10. Or more. To be precise, you have a 40% chance of being happy if you have five friends or fewer, rising to 50% if you have up to 10, while if you have more than that, you’re chances of happiness stand at 55%.

However, it’s counterproductive to try to have many more than this, because, as Aristotle again said “it would seem actually impossible to be a great friend to many people … Those who have many friends and mix intimately with them all are thought to be no one’s friend.”

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