Here’s an easy tip that immediately improves the climate of your relationship with your spouse, your children, your family, and your co-workers. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you know that I’m big on gratitude, and I’ve shared all sorts of advice and case studies for finding, keeping and allowing gratitude to transform your life.
You also know that once you start it’s easier than you thought, and the effects are powerful and almost instantaneous.
Now I’m going to share a trick that brings it home to practical life. If you can’t quite get the hang of feeling grateful, there’s a practice that will help you get there more quickly. It takes intention, but this practice is so cut and dry, that you practical types will see and benefit from it right away.
All you have to do is count. And, you still get to voice your opinion if something is not exactly to your liking. You’ll see how that works in just a minute…
We’ve observed and discussed how feeling and showing gratitude in your relationship changes the happiness quotient in your personal, domestic and work life. You may have even decided practicing gratitude is a worthy goal for you. Now try implementing the gratitude ratio to ensure that you’re staying on track with your goal.
That Gratitude Ratio is very simple. It’s 5:1. Five parts gratitude to every single complaint.
That means, go ahead and say what makes you unhappy. Get it out there; get it off your chest. Then, make up for it by saying five positive things, doing five things that show your appreciation, or showing five ways you’re happy with someone or something.
In other words, you get one storm cloud for every five rays of sunshine.
This idea comes from John Gottman’s 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions, but it could have easily come from your grandma. This time, though, “If you don’t have anything nice to say…” you don’t have to refrain from saying anything at all. You get to say just one.
Getting to Five
As you’re getting started with the ratio, you could keep physical track by slipping a rubber band or string bracelet around your wrist every time you express something sweet, helpful or appreciative. If you’re cautious, skeptical, or vocally and negatively outspoken, that means you’ll need to look for the good stuff. You have to start training your eyes to see and your ears to hear, and soon you will discover that blessings are all around you.
Another very common practice is starting and keeping a gratitude journal with your partner. Get pretty little book, or use a simple spiral notebook. Keep it by your bed or in your kitchen. Talk together about your daily goal for gratitude sightings and how it will transform your satisfaction with each other. Daily, write three things you are grateful for in your partner.
Remember that expression matters. If you show or say your appreciation out loud, then it “counts” as an interaction.
We’re talking interactions. That means you’re aiming for incidents where your actions intersect those of your partners. Although journaling and thinking nice thoughts are both excellent practices that get your mind and heart moving in a more gratitude centered way, it’s not enough to keep it to yourself. You have to express gratitude for it to count toward your ratio.
Hopefully, as you get going, you’ll discover how incidental your positive expressions can be. You won’t even have to go out of your way to count them up or verbalize them because they you become aware of their common and frequent quality. Once you get there, take stock of how your outlook and your relationship have changed. You may discover that not only your partner, but your kids, extended family, and neighbors are warming up to you in ways you’ve never experienced before. How wonderful is that?
What about you? Do you have any other practices that help you fulfill the 5:1 ratio on a daily basis? Why not share in the comments below, or tell how the gratitude practice has changed your marriage for the better.