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Rita Watson MPH

Revitalize Your Love Life with a Three Day Gratitude Plan

Happiness hints that the Fairy Godmother forgot to teach us.

Keeping a relationship vital is about choices - the choice to love, to be grateful, and to forgive. It is so easy to be grateful during happy times but who wants to be grateful when the world around you is falling apart? It seems unfairly contradictory, but learning to be grateful during a low point may be the only way to attain the joy that oftentimes eludes us.

One of the grateful people who is always an inspiration is John Kralik, author of 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life . Reading about his climb from near financial ruin to a life of success and romance is uplifting. But in talking with him one hears in his voice how gratitude became his mission.

Before discovering the power of 'thank you,' Kralik was living in one room, experiencing strained relationships, and watching his law practice fall on hard times. At this low point, something resonated.

He described to me a walk he took in the Echo Mountains of Pasadena, Calif. It was there that he sensed "a growing awareness, a voice within." What he heard was this: "Until you learn to be grateful for the things you have, you will not receive the things you want," he said adding: "We get so wrapped up in the day-to-day that we lose touch."

To keep in touch he began writing a thank you note a day to people who had affected his life - from family to clients to colleagues. His life turned around so dramatically that he is now Judge John Kralik of the Los Angeles Superior Court. And yes, he found love.

As it happens, Kralik unwittingly lived the philosophy of Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis. Dr. Emmons believes that "Attitude change often follows behavior change. By living the gratitude that we do not necessarily feel, we can begin to feel the gratitude that we live." Emmons Lab - Psychology - UC Davis

Want a quick start to gratitude and love? Here are three hints

Gratitude on Day 1: Express thanks by finding three qualities that you love about your partner. All day long focus on those positive qualities. No matter what happens, try to ignore all of those little irritating moments or habits that drive you mad.

Forgiveness on Day 2: Identify three things about yourself that make you angry and three things about your love that make you want to scream. Now forgive yourself and forgive your love. Be grateful for the sensitivity to forgive.

Appreciation on Day 3: For an entire day, speak only kind words. Yes, an entire day. The truth to tell is that even I find it difficult at times, but give it shot. Tell your husband or lover or partner that he or she is the most perfect, wonderful, loving person in the world -no matter what. If you feel a spark of annoyance, turn it around and find a trait for which to be grateful. As someone once told me - think of annoyance as a spark from a broken match that hits a carpet. Leave it alone and it will simmer and leave a mark. Stamp it out immediately and it's gone.

To help yourself stay focused, put a photo up on your frig or desk that shows you both at your happiest.

In some ways the three day plan is like cleaning out closets, desk drawers, or tackling a pile of papers. You feel better and you sleep better with the clutter cleared away. With the gratitude plan, you are essentially clearing out feelings that keep your relationship from thriving. The ultimate goal is to create a mindset for unconditional love.

Copyright 2011 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved


About the Author

Rita Watson, MPH, is an associate fellow at Yale's Ezra Stiles College, a former columnist for The Providence Journal, and the author of Italian Kisses: Rose-Colored Words and Love from the Old Country.