Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all the others ~ Cicero (106- 43BC)
I always thought “love at first sight” was something that happened in the movies, until I met my partner. That “lightning bolt” moment I didn’t believe in actually happened to me!
Our relationship was wonderful for a very long time but after 22 years, two children and all the usual pressures of life, it was not in the healthiest of states and I was determined to make it better.
I still loved my partner very much, enjoyed his company and wonderful sense of humour and I valued the family unit so I set out to find a way to stop my powerful emotions hijacking my love and patience.
My partner and I tried counselling which was wonderful but was costing us a fortune.
We attended a wonderfully empowering course at Relationships Australia called “Building Better Relationships” but as the course finished we forgot most of what we had learnt. Research suggests we only remember 4 -10% of what we are taught!
I was on a mission and set about researching sustainable practices to nourish and support my relationship. I needed a way to recalibrate quickly when I was not my best self. I discovered a daily gratitude practice that has totally transformed my relationship with myself, my partner and has transformed my life.
Here’s what I do and how it helps.
Rituals create a space for us to focus on what’s most important to us. They enable us to create loving commitments and kind intentions that nourish our minds and hearts.
Every morning I wake up and practice a two-minute mindfulness – gratitude ritual.
I pause, breathe deeply and prepare to open to a sense of gratitude and optimism.
It turns out gratitude training is not so different from muscle training at the gym.
Research into neuroplasticity reveals that as you develop new habits, you rewire the brain. (Shawn Achor 2012)
The Power of Pausing
One of Oprah’s most impactful guests, Dr Jill Bolte Taylor says:
“When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90 second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop.”
Simply put, if we are exposed to a stressful situation we should allow ourselves to observe our surrounding emotions for 90 seconds.
Pausing allows me to stop, recalibrate and focus on being grateful for all the positives in my relationship. This gives me a deep sense of satisfaction, it’s nourishing and I’m far more connected with my partner even during times of stress.
The Benefits of Deep Breathing
Deep breathing encourages a full oxygen exchange and it’s the fastest and easiest way to turn down the stress response.
A deep breath slows the heartbeat, relaxes muscles, lowers blood pressure, releases endorphins and calms the body.
My morning ritual involves taking a long slow deep breath as I prepare to shift my thinking, reframe a situation and focus on being grateful.
Shifting Perspective in Two Minutes
Did you know that ninety percent of any success is a direct result of how the mind is used?
This means the quality of my thoughts determines the quality of my life – very empowering information. I have a lot control over how I react to situations. With this in mind I threw myself fully into research mode to collect and collate profound relationship inspiration and helpful scientific evidence to focus on during my morning ritual.
This morning’s inspiration was from Gretchen Rubin:
“Gratitude is a key to a happy life. People who cultivate gratitude get a boost in happiness and optimism, feel more connected to others, are better liked and have more friends, and are more likely to help others – they even sleep better and have fewer headaches.”
There is no prerequisite for relationship success apart from effort, a consistent belief in success and a positive mindset.
A two-minute daily mindfulness practice has been transformational for me. Today my partner and I have a healthy, loving, conscious relationship. We are in a stronger place now more than ever before.