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Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

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 lot of jokes revolve around the "gift that keeps on giving." Whatever it is in the joke, it's not a gift anyone wants. Well here's a gift that we all want and that truly does keep on giving: gratitude. It's a necessary ingredient for a healthy, happy relationship.
Think about it--when do you feel closest to your spouse or partner? I'll wager that it's when you know he (or she) really sees you and acknowledges you and appreciates you. Your loved one wants to feel that, too. We all crave that kind of connection. It's in those moments that we are most vulnerable and therefore open to the deepest heart-to-heart connection.
The recipe is simple: make it a natural part of your day to say thank you for all the ways your loved one makes your life easier or brighter or funnier or happier. Say it with a smile, say it with a gentle touch, say it with a kiss, but say it often.
Now, you might think that the things we're "supposed to do" don't deserve acknowledgment. Taking out the garbage? Cooking dinner? That's just part of the deal, right? Wrong. Nobody likes to be taken for granted. When we look for opportunities to express appreciation, we're less susceptible to irritations. Our mood is lighter because we're focused on the positive. Our positive, even joyful appreciation delivers happiness. When we're appreciated, we become appreciative. It's a self-perpetuating cycle of goodness: the gift that keeps on giving.
When you express appreciation, be specific. The more detailed you are, the more powerful the message. Rather than, "You're a great husband!" say something like, "When you look at me like that, I know I'm the luckiest woman in the world." Rather than, "You're a great cook!" say something like, "I really appreciate how much effort and creativity you put into cooking for all of us." You both will glow in the warmth of it.
Here's the best part: this works wonders with kids, too. Your children need to hear the many ways you appreciate them. They need to hear it often for their own sense of worth. They need to hear adults expressing it to each other so they have healthy role models to follow. When children live in an atmosphere of gratitude, it becomes a natural part of their interaction with others. The gift keeps on giving from one generation to the next.
Start right now. Cultivate gratitude--that glorious emotion in which a relationship flourishes. You'll be so pleased by the beautiful results.

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