There’s also a place for gratitude in overcoming difficulties. Struggles arise in relationships as a result of neglect, mistrust, resentment, anger or disappointment.
During these difficult times, it can be challenging to see anything good or remember these moments ever existed. Jessica Elizabeth regularly turns to gratitude exercises when coaching singles and couples through trying times.
“I ask my clients to list 50 items they are grateful for,” she says, “then line-by-line, write about their role in making it possible, or think of a new way they can show gratitude for it.”
This gratitude task helps people to focus on the good, and boosts their self-esteem when they realise they are an active agent in creating it.
Every relationship in your life has something valuable to teach you, even the most trying ones. When you’re feeling challenged, remember that you have the ability to choose how to respond in any given moment. When you’re ready to do so, turning to appreciation can help you to take a different perspective and move your thoughts to a more positive place.
Celebrate the good times
Airing your grievances with someone you trust can be cathartic, but before you dive in, share the positive experiences that matter to you so you can celebrate together. We often find that it’s easier to talk and share with a cup of coffee in hand and a slice of something sweet on your plate – try our cinnamon raisin plait and arrange a get together.
Practising gratitude presents an opportunity to feel happier, less stressed, gain greater clarity and a sense of comfort when needed most. It helps you to acknowledge who and what you have in your life, and take action to ensure these blessings continue.
And, as challenges arise, appreciation goes a long way towards helping you to navigate them, doing so with more acceptance, grace and compassion towards yourself, and others too.
3 gratitude exercises to build better connections
Start a gratitude jar
Whenever someone does a kind act for you, jot it down. Keep the notes in a secret gratitude jar. When the jar is full, present it to the person, letting them know how much they’re appreciated. Pick out some key moments to read aloud. They will feel incredibly appreciated and you’ll both be happier in the knowledge that their efforts make a positive difference.
Set up a physical or digital gratitude tracker with easy shared access, such as a journal, a shared document or noticeboard. Form a weekly ritual of coming together for 15 to 20 minutes to list as many things as possible you have to appreciate, and sharing why each one is important.
Say it with a squeeze
Make an effort to show how much the kindness, support and generosity you receive means by following a thank you with a big hug! Hugging helps you to immediately feel blissed out and less stressed as hugs trigger the release of a ‘cuddle chemical’ called oxytocin into the bloodstream. An increase in this hormone supports your bond, helping you both to naturally feel closer, more trusting and all warm and fuzzy too!
Photos by Fernanda Prado, Gabrielle Henderson, Jonathan Chng, Lauren Richmond, rawpixel and Voenica Carswell on Unsplash