Written by Writer’s Corps member Vivian Todini
If you’re looking for new ways to strengthen your relationship this Valentine’s Day, look no further than positive psychology. Rather than obsessing over what’s wrong in your life or your relationships, the school of positive psychology offers a new twist on tradition: Concentrate on what’s going well. Embracing this perspective can strengthen your relationship but, this does not mean you should ignore warning signs or red flags. In fact, it’s especially important to pay attention to your instincts. If something in your relationship feels off it’s likely because something is off, so be sure to listen to your gut.
However, if you are in a healthy relationship, you can make it stronger by remembering to celebrate, rather than sweat, the small stuff. Here are three exercises positive psychologists offer to help your relationships flourish.
The Gratitude Moment
Before turning in for the night, take the time to tell your partner of friend something during the day that you’re grateful for. These moments can be as simple as a smile you shared with a passerby or as deep as learning your friend is healing from their unhealthy relationship. It’s proven that when you get into the habit of gratitude, your happiness quotient rises. As positive psychologists would advise: focus on your blessings rather than your burdens.
The Miracle Question
Therapists Insoo Kim Berg and Steve De Shazer developed a provocative question to help individuals envision a future of happiness. Here’s what they ask you to consider:
“Suppose tonight, while you slept, a miracle occurred. When you awake tomorrow, what would be some of the things you would notice that would tell you, your life had suddenly gotten better?”
This isn’t an occasion to say, “if you had answered my texts sooner my life would be so much better!” Instead, it’s an opportunity for couples to dream big about their life together and individually.
At its core, through your miracle vision, you identify what makes you happy. After listening – without judgment – to each other’s miracle, go deeper by considering questions such as:
- In your vision, what do you notice about yourself that is different?
- How has your life changed?
- What would your partner notice that’s different about you and your relationship together?
This technique is a way to imagine possibilities rather than obstacles. As De Shazer says, “problem talk creates problems, solution talk creates solutions.”
Meditation can be one minute to one hour, so don’t let a busy lifestyle be a barrier to taking a moment to pause, breathe, and think positive thoughts about your relationships. This can be especially helpful when you’re not getting along with someone in your life.
Try it now. Relax your jaw, your shoulders, and take three slow breaths. Now close your eyes and imagine your partner, friend, or family member. See them smile, laugh, and make funny gestures. Mentally breathe into these images and repeat words that encompass your positive feelings for them.
When other unrelated thoughts surface, let them float by and gently bring your mind back to images of your partner or friend. By taking a minute or longer during the day to bask in a positive meditation, you will breathe in happiness and create a greater connection to your loved one.
There are tons of creative ways to build a more healthy and loving relationship and these tips are just a few. At the end of the day, what really matters is that you’re with a partner (or friend) that makes you feel happy, cared for and supported. Without a foundation rooted in the signs of a healthy relationship, no amount of positive psychology tips will preserve your bond.
Learn more about the signs of a healthy relationship and take a few minutes (less than three, I promise) to check out One Love’s newest video-short, Love Better.