The critical person enters the room, feeling irritable…and he scans the room, looking for something or someone to point to as the cause of his irritability.

I’m paraphrasing John Gottman from a wonderful 3-minute YouTube clip entitled The Best Predictor of Divorce.

I think it’s instructive to the critical person to enter the room…and find it empty. What will he do with his irritable feelings now?

Perhaps he’ll fill it right away with another lover, or with material objects. Perhaps she’ll clutter it with work or other busy-making activities.

But what if the critical person simply sits in the empty room and experiences the irritability? What might he learn about himself? Perhaps she’ll find that her feelings aren’t deadly and that, in fact, she is fine just the way she is.

And doesn’t this go for all of us? Spending some stretch of time alone, with no other person to affix our moods to and no external factors to blame for the way we feel…what might that teach us about our worries?…our melancholy?…and our happiness?