Everyone, stop what you’re doing and go text your sister. Seriously. In addition to being a lifeline of constant support — who happens to come with an endless closet that you can go steal clothes from — new research finds that having a sister may actually make you happier.
According to research conducted by De Montfort and Ulster Universities in the UK, people who grew up with sisters makes you more optimistic about life in general. The lead researcher, professor Tony Cassidy, suspects that this is because sisters help with open communication. “Sisters appear to encourage more open communication and cohesion in families,” Cassidy explains. “Emotional expression is fundamental to good psychological health and having sisters promotes this in families.”
So what does that mean for those of families who only have brothers? Unfortunately, the opposite is true about brothers; professor Cassidy’s research found that brothers tend to create a less optimistic view. He explains, “It could be that boys have a natural tendency not to talk about things. With boys together it is about a conspiracy of silence not to talk. Girls tend to break that down.”
The research was backed up by writer and linguistics professor Deborah Tannen — who has long studied the relationship between sisters; as part of an article for the New York Times several years back, she interviewed more than 100 women about their communication habits and relationship with their sisters. She found that most who also had brothers said they spoke to their sisters more often, at greater length, and about more personal topics than they did with their brothers — which will come as no to surprise to anyone who has a sister.
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And those regular conversations with your sibling (of either gender) have been proven countless times to be beneficial. In one study of adult siblings, positive sibling contact in to one’s 80s was very closely correlated with good health and positive mood — and was proven to have an even stronger impact on an octogenarian’s life than his/her relationship with friends or even their own children.
Basically what we’re saying is go hug your sibling. Shoot them a text. Tell them you love them. And if you’re lucky enough to have a sister, forgive her for always stealing your clothes and literally never washing them — because there’s a good shot that she’s already positively impacted your life and your family in a big way. (P.S., all of this is especially true if you happen to be my sister — just sayin’… Sorry Manda!!! Love you, mean it!!!!!)