These studies show that our friends might be our real family

We’re told that we can’t choose our family. But a study shows that the friends we choose to be around can have greater benefits for us than family. In two studies, Michigan State University scholar William Chopik looked at 280,000 people and their friendships. He found that friendships are super important to our health and well-being.

Friends make us happy across our lifespan

“Friendships become even more important as we age,” Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology, told Time. “Keeping a few really good friends around can make a world of difference for our health and well-being. So it’s smart to invest in the friendships that make you happiest.”

It’s all about the choice

But Chopik stressed it’s not just casual acquaintances that make the shift in closeness possible. It’s the real, stick-around-for-ever, Harry/Ron/Hermione friends.

Friendships help us stave off loneliness but are often harder to maintain across the lifespan,” he said. “If a friendship has survived the test of time, you know it must be a good one – a person you turn to for help and advice often and a person you wanted in your life.”

When friends were involved in time of hardship, like illness, the participants were rated with higher happiness levels. Chopik says that friends have a larger impact than family because of the choice. Family can bring us happiness, but the people we choose to have around us tend to be a better support network as we get older.

Science is backing up how awesome our friends are, and it’s 100% awesome. We love our BFFs regardless, but it’s nice to know that keeping our besties around is good for our long-term health.

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