Last week, in the United States, we spent the day celebrating Thanksgiving. Usually we get together to share a large meal and spend time with family, friends and loved ones. This year my family was spread out across the united states so I spent it with my husband which was just lovely. I didn’t have to cook! I cook all the time and have spent many Thanksgiving days preparing and preparing so this was a wonderful respite for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I did however, have a chance with the technology we have today to connect in various forms with my friends, family and loved ones over skype, text and email.
It began with my children sending me texts on how grateful they were for me as their mother. My heart swelled and I answered them with a text filled with gratitude for them being my wonderful children. Barbara Fredrickson, the positive psychology researcher and author of Love 2.0 calls this positive resonance. She says:
Love is a many-splendored thing. This classic saying is apt, not only because love can emerge from the shoots of any other positive emotion you experience, be it amusement, serenity, or gratitude, but also because of your many viable collaborators in love, ranging from our sister to your soul mate, your newborn to your neighbor, even someone you’ve never met before.
At the level of positivity resonance, micro-moments of love are virtually identical regardless of whether they bloom between you and a stranger or you and a soul mate; between you and an infant or you and your lifelong best friend. The clearest difference between the love you feel with intimates and the love you feel with anyone with whom you share a connection is its sheer frequency. Spending more total moments together increases your chances to feast on micro-moments of positivity resonance. These micro-moments change you.
Whereas the biological synchrony that emerges between connected brains and bodies may be comparable no matter who the other person may be, the triggers for your micro-moments of love can be wholly different with intimates. The hallmark feature of intimacy is mutual responsiveness, that reassuring sense that you and your soul mate — or you and your best friend — really ‘get’ each other. This means that you come to your interactions with a well-developed understanding of each other’s inner workings, and you use that privileged knowledge thoughtfully, for each other’s benefit. Intimacy is that safe and comforting feeling you get when you can bask in the knowledge that this other person truly understands and appreciates you. You can relax in this person’s presence and let your guard down. Your mutual sense of trust, perhaps reinforced by your commitments of loyalty to each other, allows each of you to be more open with each other than either of you would be elsewhere.
We were sharing “micro-moments” with each other that felt like fairy dust of good feelings being sprinkled on each of us. My son happened to say that this felt so good we should do it every day! I agree! We should…..we should be aware of each other and how much we love each other and are grateful for each other every day. This is where our focus should be in all of our relationships. What is going well? How can I tell my loved ones out loud how much I appreciate them? At the end of each day, what three things am I most grateful for? By doing this we are setting our selves up to increase our happiness and sense of well-being. Usually we are focused on what is going wrong and what do I need to fix or improve. Negativity is like Velcro, it easily sticks to us. In order to change this type of thinking we need to change our focus and FLIPP our mindset around to see what is working, what is going well. Try this: when you come into the house try to find three things you love about your spouse or three things you can find that you are grateful for. Ellen Langer the mother of mindfulness recommends this exercise. She talks about how we need to be mindful.
“when you’re being mindful, as I study it, you’re simply noticing new things.”
Often a prayer of “Thank you” is enough. I have reminders all over my house. Photos of loved ones to make me smile, quotes I love all around me, drawings on my refrigerator by my grandchildren, and the word Thank you where I can see it clearly. To look at every day with thank you in your heart can make you reframe any situation. I heard this quote today:
“ Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”
So, I ask you, how do you react in your life? Do you take three deep breaths? Do you send those loving texts? Do you only wait for Thanksgiving to say what you are grateful for? Or do you have a prayer of thank you in your heart each day?