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  • Dr. Teresa Edwards

A Dose of Thankfulness

Fall is a great time to pause and consider what we are thankful for. It's good to be reminded to be thankful. For most of us, it's easy to focus on what's not going right or what we don't like. We pay attention to what we would like to change about our life, our house, ourselves, our spouse, and our children. But, feelings of warmth, affection, and closeness don’t thrive in a relationship by thinking about what we don’t like or want to change about that person.

Thankfulness in relationships

One of the great existential thinkers, Soren Kierkegaard, said that our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts. He was right. This is true for our relationships also. Our feelings toward our spouse or family members are the result of our dominant thoughts about them. So, if our dominant thoughts focus on our anger over a recent argument, our frustration over housework, or our irritation over an annoying habit, what are the results of those thoughts? Are they leading us to a more fulfilling, connected relationship?

So how do we change our thought patterns and develop an atmosphere of thankfulness and appreciation toward those around us? Here’s a simple exercise that can help you reach that goal. For the next month, on a daily basis, tell your spouse or family member at least one quality that you admire, respect, or are thankful for about them. For example, you may say, "I really appreciated how (caring, dedicated, dependable, stable, calm, etc.) you were when..."

This will help train you to look for the positive characteristics in others. And even better, it will create a habit of expressing the positive things you are thinking to those you love. A healthy dose of thankfulness is good for all.

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