Yesterday I stopped abruptly at the question “How can I be happier in my relationship?” Today I have an actual answer to offer you. (And no, it does not involve doing drugs.) This is part 6 of a series; the first post is here.
TL;DR: Set a five minute timer. Ask yourself what is really great about your relationship right now. Think about how that makes you feel, and let yourself fall into and follow those feelings. That’s it. It’s so simple you’ll be tempted to skip it. I hope you’ll give it a chance.
The good news is there are lots of great answers. Even better, if you become happier in your relationship, the changes you wanted to see in the first place will become easier to reach. The best news is, I can give you one way to become happier in your relationship right now (and for the record, no, that way is not “start doing drugs”).
Most emotions come and go on the whims of our brain chemistry and our reactions to stimuli from our environment. They just happen to us and we’re just along for the ride. But there are a few emotions we can experience on demand: Jealousy, shame, anger, and outrage, for example, are all emotions we can invoke whenever we want. Sure, they also happens to us at random, but we can bring them into play almost at will. When we’re experiencing them, we can intensify them just by focusing on them. You might notice that happiness isn’t on this list; in fact the fastest way to kill happiness is to focus on it. You might also have noticed that these emotions are all negative. That’s okay. There’s one more I left off, and it’s one of the good ones.
Gratitude is an emotion you can generate directly in your brain by thinking about things, and focusing on existing gratitude will further intensify that emotion. And the best part is, it works great on relationships.
This won’t fix all the things. It won’t make everything better. But it will make things a little brighter for a little while. If things are already pretty much okay for you, this technique can still surprise and delight.
Here’s your homework: take a few minutes today to relax quietly and answer these questions to yourself. Pause and really think about each question. But here’s the important part: don’t just answer them. Take a moment and really let yourself feel where the answer takes you. Center in on that feeling, and let yourself remember and experience the emotions. Ready? Here we go:
- What’s great about my relationship right now?
- What’s great in my life right now?
- What’s great about my partner right now?
- What’s great about myself right now?
- It doesn’t matter what’s missing, just focus on what you have. Maybe what’s great about your relationship is that you’re getting started in D/s. How does that make you feel? Excited? Loving? Loved? Horny? Happy?
- You can pick things that are long-term… or random and temporary. Maybe what’s great in your life right now is you finally got a good night’s sleep last night. How does that make you feel? Rested? Relieved? Energized?
- They can be big or small. Maybe what’s great about your partner is they texted you an “I love you” for no reason. How does that make you feel? Noticed? Worthy of attention? Adored? Doted on?
- And it doesn’t matter if anyone else would understand as long as it’s important to you. Maybe what’s great about yourself right now is your knees look really cute today. How does that make you feel? Flirty? Silly? Secretly amused?
If you’re reading this right now and thinking “that’s an okay idea, I guess, but I’m not sure I’m interested” please give this a try. Take it as a challenge or a bet. Start a five minute timer next time you’re in the bathroom and just focus on feeling gratitude. This technique, like a lot of meditative practices, can’t really be predicted. You might think going in that it’ll make you feel a certain way, but even if you’re right, that’s not the same thing as actually having the feels.
If you decide to give this a try, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Were you surprised? Did it go about how you expected? Please let me know in the comments. And if you decide to skip it, I’d love to hear your thoughts anyway.