By Karen Aurit, LAMFT
Ever caught yourself focusing on your partner’s negative qualities? You’re not alone. Our brains are hard-wired to notice the negative to help us survive as a species. However, for our relationships to thrive, we must re-focus on the positive, creating an attitude of gratitude.
Research shows, expressing gratitude creates a cycle of appreciation that can transform relationships. Partners who express gratitude are more likely to remain in their relationship over time.
An attitude of gratitude:
- Reinforces positive behavior.
Thanking your partner for taking out the trash increases the likelihood that they will do it again. Bonus – appreciated partners are more likely to show appreciation in return.
- Creates happy feelings.
Expressing gratitude releases brain chemicals that make us feel happier and increases our sense of self-worth. Receiving gratitude validates your efforts and shows that you value the relationship. Gratefulness can improve overall well-being, increase resilience, strengthen the immune system, and reduce stress.
- Increases connection.
Dr. John Gottman notes that expressing gratitude can lower partner defensiveness, increase willingness to work together, and creates a “culture of goodwill” in a relationship. It’s not always easy to express gratitude, so it is best to focus on developing your new attitude, not on the results. Your partner may not know how to respond initially, but consistency is key.
- Simple steps to get started:
• Say it in the moment. When you’re grateful, say it out loud (or by text)!
• Say it in front of your kids. Modeling appreciation allows your kids to see you both in a positive light and can boost your partner’s self-confidence.
• Say it every day. Create a ritual of exchanging daily gratitudes with your partner.
• Keep a journal of gratitudes. It may someday make for a special gift for your partner.
Begin focusing on your new “attitude of gratitude” today!
Healthy Love Habits is Raising Arizona Kids’s monthly relationship column for learning simple habits to create the healthy and loving connection you desire and deserve.