How to be grateful

Something you can do today, will make things a whole lot better!

Have you ever stopped to think about the energy you bring to your relationship?

No matter how huge the problems in your relationship, relationship councellor Margie Ulbrick explains that there is something you can do today, to make things a whole lot better.

Creating an attitude of gratefulness is infectious. It has a ripple effect in your life wherever you are. The research is out – gratitude makes us happy. It is not that happy people feel grateful, but rather that grateful people feel happy.

And no matter where you are in the problems of life, no matter how difficult the challenges you face, you can start by taking small steps towards feeling grateful.

What You Can Do
A good way to start is to remind yourself when you first wake that you would like to have a grateful attitude. You can begin by being thankful for the gift of life itself, and as you place each foot on the ground as you go about your morning routine, you can say THANK YOU with each footstep you take.

You could begin by being thankful for just two things in every day, and by keeping a gratitude journal. I suggest you write down five things each day you are grateful for, big or small. It might be that you see something in nature: a bird, a beautiful cloud, the way the winter light reflects through the trees, things that remind you of the beauty in the world and give you a sense of connection with something greater than yourself. Or it could be that you are grateful for a meal you enjoyed, a walk you took. It doesn’t mean that your life has to be working completely as you want it to, but you appreciate and create a habit of appreciation for the small things. You really begin to notice consciously the ways in which moments of appreciation can expand into a wider sense of gratitude.

Creating New 
Neural Pathways
Our brains are wired for survival and so they tend to naturally remember the threatening experiences more readily than the positive ones so as to protect us from future danger. But creating an open-hearted and receptive way of living and expecting the best can be learnt.

Most of us need to consciously choose to notice the good things, but once we start making that a habit, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Being grateful amplifies the good in our lives. I don’t mean that we avoid facing our situations by taking a Pollyanna approach. That never works. However, when we choose to hold onto what is good alongside a capacity to face our loss, we truly cultivate a holistic wellness approach to living. We move from not just noticing the good, but to valuing the good, and over time we store that experience in our memories.

How does this affect our relationships?
It has a ripple effect! When we consciously choose to start seeing the good in our partners, every aspect of our interaction changes. Our communication patterns change and we begin to be open to the most important things in developing great relationships. It may be that they feel like the most difficult people in the world to love or to live with. It doesn’t matter. When we decide to see the good in them rather than waiting for their next irritating habit to impinge upon us, rather than being critical, blaming or attacking, our partners change before our very eyes. We start to see them and really see them as people who have their own life histories and struggles. Our hearts begin the journey of becoming compassionate. Our focus tends to shift from one of having ourselves at the centre of our world to: how can I give? And of course we all know the old adage, it is by giving that we receive! Love has many properties. Acknowledgement, recognition and forgiveness are but a few of these. 

We can cultivate a practice of expressing appreciation to our nearest and dearest for the small things and even when things are really feeling awful, there is still something that can be acknowledged. It may be just a simple thank you for taking care of the kids today or for cooking a meal or for taking the rubbish out. It doesn’t matter what it is, the fact is that you can turn a negative cycle into a positive one by regularly expressing appreciation. It also helps us not take each other for granted which is a common problem in long-term relationships.

Being grateful for the smallest things in our partners can bring about the biggest changes. Don’t take my word for it. Try it, play with it and have the time of your life!

Next: 8 ingredients for a rock-solid relationship

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