People attend my workshops (entitled Understanding the People You Love) with this main question: How can I make my relationship better?

They want a simple answer.

And then the answer I give them is TOO simple!

But here it is: Be thankful for your loved one, and say so…over and over and over…

  • Notice your loved one’s strengths and point out those strengths to them, every single day.
  • Watch how you speak. Always be respectful and gentle. Train yourself out of nasty, hurtful ways of speaking.
  • Be appreciative. Tune in to the positive aspects of who your loved one is and savor those aspects. Write those positive observations in your journal. Collect them to reread at times when you are angry or frustrated.

The human brain naturally dwells on the negative more than the positive. Why? Because in terms of sheer survival, negative things are more important to pay attention to.  Pleasure and beauty and fun feel great, yes!…but famine and danger and enemies and other threats might kill you.

And so, we’re all hard-wired to be a little bit pessimistic. To worry and doubt and feel suspicious and insecure. To feel our disappointments more keenly than we feel our delights. To ruminate about the dark side and discount the bright.

Therefore, the quickest way to change your relationship for the better, is to readjust your perspective and more fully appreciate the good stuff that’s already there.

And by changing your own behavior, by being more appreciative and positive, you’ll be improving the relationship environment. The trick is this:

  • Change enough (it has to be noticeable)
  • Sustain the change (your new habits must become permanent)

Why not start now, and begin a list:

  • What are the things I adore about my loved one?
  • In what ways is my life better because my loved one is in it?
  • For what in this relationship am I thankful?

Add at least five items every day, and then reread your list on Thanksgiving, perhaps just to yourself, or perhaps out loud!



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    Last reviewed: 29 Jul 2011

APA Reference
Cousins, L. (2010). Being Thankful Will Improve Your Relationships. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 31, 2015, from




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