A healthy relationship needs at least five good interactions to balance out each bad interaction.*
Have you ever felt like the bad things in your relationships stick to your mind like glue, yet, when we aren’t paying attention, it’s easy to forget about all the good things?
This is caused by our brain’s negative bias where bad events affect us much more than good events do.
This bias is why small fights can seem like a big deal – because our brain makes a big deal of them.
And yet, our brain makes a small deal of the good things.
Turning Negative into Positive
Our negative bias was intended to help us avoid danger. For example, remembering not to touch an open flame (intense) sticks to our brain much more than remembering to floss (not exactly intense).
While our negative bias came preinstalled on our mental hard drive, we have the power to install – or uninstall – whatever else we want thanks to our brain’s neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity is the mechanism that allows your brain to shape itself by forming new neural connections that help you get better at whatever you repeatedly focus on.
For example, mathematicians have more neural structure in the area of their brain responsible for arithmetic because of their repeated focus on solving arithmetic problems.
Using this concept, we can prime ourselves for better relationships by using neuroplasticity to make our brain better at remembering the good things instead of the bad ones.
It’s all just a matter of focus and repetition, repetition, repetition.
Part of my daily practice for living a happier life is writing in a gratitude journal. Every day, I write down a minimum of 5 things that I’m grateful for, and it usually ends up as list of 30-something lovely things to feel great about.
(If you haven’t tried this habit before, I highly recommend it!)
Part of the reason why I love this habit is because it’s immediately rewarding. Once you create your list, you get to see exactly how blessed you are.
This habit is also gratifying in the long-run because it helps train your brain to notice more things to be grateful even when you aren’t writing in your journal.
You’ll just be living your life like normal while also noticing all the sweet things happening around you that once slipped by.
After starting this habit, I feel myself growing more content with my life each week, and I’ve thought of two possible reasons for this:
Reason #1: My life truly is getting better and better every day.
Reason #2: I’m noticing more things that make my every day better.
And I’m willing to bet that reason #2 has everything to do with it.
Now, what would happen if you brought that magic into your relationships? Specifically romantic ones, but friendships too.
What would happen if you stopped noticing everything they’re doing wrong and started noticing everything they’re doing right?
Each day, take 2 minutes to write down everything that you’re grateful for about your partner (or friend).
It could include:
- Sweet things they’ve done for you
- Qualities that you enjoy about them
- Tiny moments that you want to remember
It doesn’t matter how you do it.
All the matters is that you do it every day.
The more you perform this exercise, the better your brain will become at noticing the sweet things your dear one does for you.
You’ll finally be giving them the credit they deserve – the credit that your negativity bias once took away.
In time, you’ll notice that you’re more content in your relationship.
Instead of saying “I wish you’d stop doing ____,” you’ll find yourself saying “I love you because ____.”
And your love will grow.
As you start putting in the effort towards giving your partner/friends the credit they deserve, and it will lead to so much more love and magic in in your life.
And to think, you can create all this with a simple 2 minute habit 🙂
Well? What are you waiting for?
Start your list right now!
*According to Rick Hanson, Ph.D. and author of Hardwiring Happiness – an excellent book on the science of happiness.