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Transform Your Relationships with Gratitude

February 13, 2014

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Improving your relationships by showing gratitude is one of the simplest things you can do make life better for yourself and those you love. Gratitude is among the world's most potent charms in transforming how you treat others and how you are treated in return, and true gratitude requires much more than just a “thank you” now and then. It can be simple but it is far from easy.

Being grateful for the people you care about begins when you start identifying what you love about them. It helps to imagine that you have to write an introduction for your loved one at an awards ceremony. What are their best qualities? What do you admire? What makes them unforgettable? Even quirks can be charming when you see them with new eyes.

Part two of this process can be the hardest. It involves telling them how you feel. Ironically, those closest to us often receive the least appreciation from us. For some reason, people often find it easy to express admiration or adoration of great figures, but they find it gut-wrenching to tell those they love how much they are appreciated. There is only one way to accomplish this: practice. It may feel embarrassing or uncomfortable at first, but research has proven that showing gratitude increases relationship satisfaction and intensifies the feeling of connectedness that you share.

When those you love feel appreciated, they feel encouraged to cultivate their best qualities. As the Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh expresses it, when we show appreciation and love, we are watering the best seeds in our loved ones, setting the stage for future growth and positivity. Focusing on how a partner or friend makes our life better also makes it easier to be understanding when they are less than perfect.

The last step in genuinely improving your relationship is to let go of your expectations. Showing gratitude for specific actions and attributes of your loved ones shows that you love them, rather than loving when they meet your expectations for them. This practice will help to put your relationship on a firm grounding of support and respect. 

A relationship based on mutual gratitude is truly something to be thankful for.

Who are you most grateful to have in your life right now?