Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

Happy 2015 Valentine’s Day

January 29, 2015

Turtles in love

Hello Friends,

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Yes, once again it is that day of the year when we honour our partners and try and experience them as the lovers we fell in love with.

I know there is too much pressure put on this day. It seems as though the authentic romance we want to feel gets lost in the materialistic Hallmark day it has become. Have no fear…put the meaning back in by keeping things simple. Somehow simplicity can help to make it more memorable.

Here are some ideas for those of you who need inspiration:

  • Give your partner a love poem (you don’t even have to write it!)
  • Make a nice dinner at home and eat by candlelight on the floor
  • Just spend the evening in candlelight!
  • Go for a walk in the day and stop somewhere new for a coffee and surprise your lover with special chocolates with the coffee
  • Stay in bed together longer than usual in the morning!
  • FLIRT with your lover all day!
  • Give your lover a massage

Whatever you do, be loving, kind and have some fun because otherwise what’s the point?

Dare ya – You can use our ideas but we dare you to come up with your own unique idea for that special someone!  Spread the love around!

Love on V Day,
T

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Four Ways to express Gratitude in your Relationship

February 20, 2014

Join us February 21-24 for our next Getting the Love you Want weekend couples workshop. Learn more and register on our website.

Just because Valentine’s Day is over, it doesn’t mean that you should stop expressing gratitude to your partner. Read what researcher Amie Gordon has  to say about the powerful impact gratitude has on our intimate relationships.

Re-posted from the University of California, Berkeley Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life.

It’s easy to take loved ones for granted. But my research says couples who are grateful to and for each other tend to be happier and are more likely to stay together.  Try these four science-based tips to make sure you get the most out of your acts of kindness.

1. Focus on giving, not getting

It is easy to think about all the nice things our partner will get and do for us on Valentine’s Day. But to make the most of the day, think of February 14th as a day to show your partner how much you care.

Studies have found that giving to others makes us happier than spending time and money on ourselves; my own research shows that giving as a way to express gratitude is likely to help your partner see how great you are and want to do something nice to express gratitude in return.

By focusing on giving and being grateful instead of on getting, you may find that both of you get more in the end.

2. Give them what they want

There is a disconnect between what we want as gift givers and what we want as recipients.

Research finds that when we set out to buy a gift or do something nice for someone else, we tend to think that the more money and time we spend, the better our gift will be. But when we think about what we want to receive as a gift, the price doesn’t matter as much—we are most happy just getting what we want.

Trying to surprise your partner with something she didn’t even know she wanted might feel more special to you, but to maximize gratitude, it is best to give a gift on Valentine’s Day that reflects your partner’s wishes. If you know that your partner loves the simple things like chocolates and flowers, give your partner chocolates and flowers, even if you think that’s silly and you should buy them something expensive instead.

The more your acts of kindness reflect your partner’s wishes and desires (even if they come off an Amazon wish list), the more thoughtful those gifts will be perceived to be—and thoughtful acts promote the most gratitude.

3. Do something unexpected

Expectations are the bane of gratitude. When people expect an act of kindness, such as on Valentine’s Day, they are less grateful for it.

To maximize gratitude on a day filled with high expectations, try doing something unexpected. If you never cook, then make your partner breakfast (if you know that is something he likes). If you don’t like to go out, plan a weekend away. Or surprise your partner with a sweet gift or act of kindness on another day, when expectations are low.

But beware: When people expect an act of kindness and don’t receive it, they tend to feel resentful. So if you know Valentine’s Day is important to your partner, it is best not to neglect it completely!

4. Say “thanks” for who they are

Expressing gratitude when your partner does something nice can go a long way toward boosting your relationship—but to really capitalize on the gratitude, it is best to express your thanks in a way that let’s your partner know you are as grateful for them as you are for their gift.

Sure you love those striped socks your partner got you. But rather than just gushing over how excited you are to try them on, mention how much you appreciate that your partner knows you well enough to pick out a great gift for you, and how he or she always seems to be so good at getting you exactly what you want.

The bottom line: Focusing on your partner—and not just their act of kindness—can help you remember how great they are and help them feel truly appreciated.

Dare ya:

Send your partner an email or text telling them one reason you are grateful to have them in your life. It covers all four categories!

Enjoy !

Tamara

Spring Cleaning

April 30, 2013

We’re thrilled to feature a guest-post by Lisa Brooks Kift, MFT this week. Read on for some great tips for “spring cleaning” your relationship.

Having an hour more daylight and feeling spring in the air (in Northern California anyway), I can’t help but think about the meaning of spring. For many it’s a time of renewal and recharge, a sleepy-eyed yawn and waking up from a winter slumber of sorts. Many clean their homes, their cars and their work environments.

Marriages can also “fall asleep” and get into a rut. So let’s dust out the cobwebs and do some spring cleaning there too!

  • Take a walk down memory lane.  Do you remember when you met? Can you recall what drew you to each other? Take some time to reflect upon this time. Research shows that happier couples are the ones who can recall pleasant earlier memories. It can be an anchor for the relationship, a reminder of what you might have forgotten. ”Oh yea, that’s what I fell in love with…”
  • Get back to checking in. At one time you likely talked a lot, especially in the early stages of your relationship. As time goes on and life gets peppered with kid related responsibilities, family, social obligations and work, it’s easy to let the communication between you and your spouse get tossed out the window. Re-prioritize a daily relationship check-in, even if brief. ”How are you?…How are we?…Is everything ok?”
  • Look under the carpet for hidden resentments. One problem that can be a consequence of insufficient communicating in marriage is the build-up of negative emotions towards each other. If anger, disappointment or sadness go unchecked they can become toxic. Resentment can undermine the very fabric of the relationship. If there is something bothering you, bring it up. It’s useful to begin with “I statements” rather than using attacking language.
  • Check your assumptions. What if you were upset with your partner because you misunderstood what he/she said or meant? What if you never clarified this? Well, you’d be suffering for no reason. One of the best ways couples can avoid distress is to simply ask the other what they meant rather than assume you know. Otherwise, you will likely have a negative emotional response towards him/her, followed by a negative behavior – and all for nothing.
  • Create happy memories. If boredom, “same ‘ol, same ‘ol,” and a lack of fun has permeated your marriage, it’s time to have positive experiences together to lay down over the other. It’s kind of like the negativity bias of the brain; the more you internalize positive emotions, the more you can ease your brain away from the negative. Plan date nights, go out and play, take a walk or do something totally new and invigorating
  • If you broke it, fix it. We all make mistakes and can inadvertently hurt our partners. The important thing for the health of relationships is taking ownership when it’s appropriate.  John Gottman, PhD refers to successful repair attempts as “the happy couple’s secret weapon.”
  • More gratitude, please. There is a lot of research out there now on the power of gratitude, individually and in relationships. Express appreciation for each other when possible. Notice the good rather than focusing on the not so good. It’s easy for couples to slip into negative cycles together.  Make the effort to shift to a more positive (and reinforcing) cycle of support and gratitude for each other.
  • Take it up a notch if needed. If your marriage feels particularly “dusty” and in need of some TLC, get proactive and get access to the many tools available to help couples do just that; a local marriage weekend workshop or going through a marriage workbook or book might be just what you need.

It would be nice to imagine being able to do these things 365 days a year but this probably isn’t realistic for many.  At the very least, adding your marriage to your spring cleaning to-do list every year is one consistent way to put the focus back on you and your partner again. If you’ve slipped up and “fallen asleep” during the winter, you can get back to prioritizing your marriage again…and maybe make up for some lost time.

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT is the creator of The Toolbox at LisaKiftTherapy.com, with tools for marriage, relationship and emotional health.  She is the author of The Marriage Refresher Course Workbook for Couples.  Lisa has a couples counseling practice in Marin County, CA.

Joy and Pain…Hold It!

April 13, 2012

So much about life is about holding two opposing experiences at once. Joy and pain always seem to go together but we usually just want to feel the joy part. When we experience painful feelings we usually try to shut them down or allow them to take over. When this happens we tend to stop feeling positive feelings and just feel the negative.

Let me give you an example.

In your relationship things can be going along okay. Then a few stressors get in the way. This can be anything from lack of sleep to work stress to a bad case of the flu in the house. Over time, and often this isn’t a very long time, we start to feel disconnected from our partner. Maybe this is as a result of some stress, perhaps you disagree about something and in just a moment it becomes a big deal. It turns into a fight and that turns into a great divide and both of you feel really BAD. Once the feeling of BAD sets in it is hard to put things back on track.  You have both lost perspective and all that is at play is big time reactivity. That’s when we feel NO joy.

Why is it so hard to remember the positive and what we love about our partner when this BAD feeling sets in.

Why can’t we feel a little bad but also hold the reality of our relationship, there is A LOT of good, a lot of love and definitely joy?

This is perhaps the most important part to understand. It seems that we are wired to be in connection with our partner and in fact when we aren’t, things go in the wrong direction in a nanosecond. In fact, we are so wired for this we can’t even control what is happening within us when the disconnection happens. That is why we can’t hold two opposing feelings at once.  Blame your brain not your partner. We are so driven to connect, to be close; to get along that it is very difficult to tolerate any feeling to the contrary. Yet isn’t this what life is about? To hold both experiences at once is definitely the key to happiness.

How can we do this? I have no idea! Really I do not know the answer I just know that we need to find it so we can live happier lives in our relationship. We need to learn to live with difference, we need to allow difficulty and pain and find a way to stay connected so we don’t always go off the rails.

Dare ya?

Try to hold two opposing experiences at once. Next time your partner pisses you off or irritates you try to allow yourself to appreciate them and remember the best thing about them. See if this is the day, allow the joy and the pain to coexist and let yourself be a grown up. Just try it. By the way this is not supposed to be an easy dare, it is a hard one.

Not easy I know!

T.A.

Ourselves / Our Gratitude / Our Challenge

April 2, 2012

Last week I went for a walk with a friend. It was one of those Vancouver days, after weeks of rain the sun was shining, fresh snow on the mountains, the ocean was glistening. It seemed like a perfect morning to relish in our beautiful city and appreciate the time we had together since we don’t see each other enough.

I hadn’t seen my friend for quite a while so we spent some time catching up on our lives our kids our latest news, it was all good. Then we began talking about a dear friend of hers who is terminally ill. I know of this person and I realized this is the 5th person in the past 2 weeks that I have heard about who is very ill.

It is a very strange phenomenon when we hear about another’s suffering, we tend to pause and take stock of our own life. We usually feel a surge of gratitude about our lives.

It is strange to have conversations about people we know of who are very sick or challenged by something because it activates our deep fears and leads us to thinking about ourselves. This is when we tend to acknowledge our own lives and our desire to be more grateful for what we have. For many of us, the desire to be more grateful about our own life seems so profound in the moment but then it is difficult to hold onto because daily life struggles take over. We get caught up in our own stuff, stress, irritants and the profound moments of gratitude slip away. We want to hold on to those profound moments, we really do but it is so hard.

This is true in our relationships too. While we have times when we are grateful for our partners, our children our parents we often forget about what is really important and let the negatives dominate.

Our challenge of course is to allow the feeling of gratitude and what we have with our partner and our families dominate. We need to allow our focus on what is right in our lives to take up more space and stop letting what isn’t right take up so much of our energy.

We all know that negative thinking leads to just one thing, more negative thinking. Yet we can’t help ourselves, that’s what we do and where we go. What’s not going right, what bugs us, what we want to be different that’s what we spend too much time on.

I am going to propose an idea.

Instead of waiting until we hear about someone we know is ill, or that something sad is happening to someone we know, why not try to be MORE grateful about what our life is really about…everyday.

How do we do this? Actually it is very simple, just not easy! Such is the stuff of life though…

Dare ya –

For the next 2 weeks at the end of every day think about what you can be grateful for related to people in your inner circle. Whether this be your partner, child, parent, other family member or friend make sure you communicate to them what you feel grateful for about having them in your life.

Just say “What I appreciate about you is…” or “One reason I am grateful to have you in my life is…” or “One thing you have taught me that I really appreciate is…” Do this EVERDAY, that is the trick! Be proactive and you can live your life without regret.

Yours truly,

T.A.

P.S. After I wrote this I just saw the film Jeff, Who Lives At Home. What a delightful, wonderful film and if you see it and know I wrote this before I saw it wow, things happen for a reason, destiny, synchronicity, mepoem (mysteriousexquisiteprecisionofeverymoment) whatever you call it, I think it is way cool! Loved that film!

T