Ready to Try Something New? Practice Being Grateful
Instead of focusing on what's wrong, try expressing what's right.
Posted January 1, 2018
When people feel more gratitude in their relationships, they're happier, more committed, and less likely to break up. They are also nicer to their partners and feel more appreciated by their partners. So if you've never done it before, start 2018 by expressing gratitude to your partner using one of the most powerful tricks used in the lab to induce gratitude. Skeptical? You are not alone. But if you just give it a try and see how it makes you feel, you might be surprised! It is two simple steps:
1. Write a letter to your partner expressing your gratitude.
2. Read it to your partner.
Were you with me until step 2? If you are unsure about actually reading the letter to your partner, imagine how you’d feel if your partner asked to read you a gratitude letter that they had written to you. Would you feel good? Would you want to hear that letter? I expect your partner will feel the same way. But if for some reason you really can’t handle reading the letter to your partner, consider writing it as an email. If not even that will do, then please still take the time to do Step 1 and write the letter. It will be good for your relationship even if you are the only person who ever sees it.
Go ahead and write this letter today to try it out. But I would not advise writing gratitude letters all the time as way to induce gratitude. If you try to write one too often you might find it difficult to think of new things to be grateful for and this can actually backfire, making you less grateful. This is a good trick to save for those moments when you really feel disconnected from your partner or are thinking about your partner in a particularly negative way.
Gratitude Letter Instructions:
On your computer or a piece of paper, write a letter expressing gratitude to your partner. Write to your partner and tell them all of the things you appreciate about them. Think about what your partner adds to your life, the nice things that your partner has done for you, what you like best about your partner, and what it is about your partner that attracted you to them in the first place.
Start the letter "Dear _______,"
Write as much or as little as you'd like, but write a few sentences at least.
When you have finished writing the letter, wait until a good moment in the next day or so when your partner isn’t too busy and can listen. Bonus points if your partner could use a mood boost. Then ask if you can read them the letter. Make it clear that you don’t expect them to reciprocate, you just want to let them know how you feel. If you can’t handle reading it to them, consider sending it in an email tonight so that they get a nice surprise when they check their email in the morning. Save a copy of the letter for yourself and feel free to read it again in the future when you need a little reminder of everything you appreciate about your partner.
More posts on the benefits of gratitude: