Category: Couples

We have so many opportunities to choose appreciation and express gratitude. It is a value in action,  and a practice.  Sharing gratitude has so many benefits for the giver, not to mention the receiver.

Gratitude Is A Choice

The emphasis is on the importance of making gratitude seeking, a choice.

Imagine that a woman comes in at the end of an exhausting day. Her partner greets her with “Hi love! I am so happy you are home. You look wiped out. I bet you would love to have me take on dinner tonight. You are incredible and give so much to those around you. You deserve a break.”

Compare that to: “Well, look who just walked in. Finally, you’re home. Where have you been? I am starving!” they said indignantly.

Showing Gratitude

Imagine a beautiful snow-filled scene. One person might feel that it is annoyingly cold, hard to bear.  To another, it represents stillness, and the opportunity to slow and savor. For the active type, having the opportunity to enjoy walking, biking or cross-country skiing to work is an unexpected pleasure.   Generosity and community can be increased by shoveling for others who are not able to do so themselves. All these choices will generate health and well-being, connection or isolation.

It is a choice. Every. Single. Day. You can choose to express appreciation and gratitude, or displeasure and contempt. It’s all in the perspective and the ability to focus on the good. Why is that so important?

Gratitude Lights Our Way

Gratitude is the beacon of light through the darkest times. In grief, though our hearts are broken, it can give solace and comfort through reflecting on treasured memories and the things we loved most about the person.

John and Beth are going through a divorce where there are so much pain and remorse, sleepless nights and anxiety about the future. Gratitude for their time together, their children along with faith and hope can ease the pain and guide them with the wisdom needed rather than bitterness and closed hearts.

There is a great amount of research generously shared about the qualitative difference.

“The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways, gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.

Research on Gratitude

Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.” Harvard Health Publishing

We know, that in order to focus on the positive and what we appreciate, we have to set the intention. We are, as research shows, hardwired with a negativity bias. This bias has done wondrous things for humankind’s survival through existence. It, however, has not been great at helping us build health, positivity or connection with others. We also know that we are hardwired for connection.

To do that, we need a 5:1 ration of sharing appreciation vs complaints or problems.

When we “take in the good” and enjoy positive moments, it grows greater health and engagement.

More Research on Gratitude

Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.

One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative).

After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

Gratitude in Relationships

Ways to Generate Gratitude:

Words of Appreciation- Through letters, daily sprinkling in of kind words at home or at work, to others, gratitude is shared and increases connection.

Create a gratitude journal to write in the morning or the end of day to build focus on the positive things that happened. This increases a sense of well-being, even in the midst of difficult times.

Share gratitude as a ritual. Whether it is at home or in the workplace, having time to express positive feedback, appreciation for the moments and contributions creates a bond.

Resources:

John Gottman, PhD.The Gottman Institute Gottman.com

Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

Rick Hanson, PhD rickhanson.net

 

 

Quest for Families provides counseling, resource and support in order to heal, and rebuild even the most fractured of families.

I believe ideally, the place to share the deepest form of love and nurture is within the family.

Unfortunately, it is also the space that we are met with the most profound challenges, hurts, disappointments and heartbreak. How do we rectify, reset and rebound with courage, faith, resilience and respect?

I believe by celebrating our strengths, accepting our imperfections, limitations, finding humor, forgiving our mistakes and increasing rising skill we can repair and rebuild.

I believe families have the opportunity to embrace core values, vision and skill building in an intentional way.

“When we know better, we do better.” Maya Angelou

What is the Quest for Families?

Quest for Families is a 6 week to 6 month or even year program that provides counseling, resource and support in order to heal, rebuild the most fractured of families. Services such as:

Multi-generational family counseling

Joint parent/child play therapy

Parent Education and Emotion Coaching for Parents

Groups for children and teens

What is the process like?

  1.  Discovery Session: We meet together to learn about the needs and challenges within your family.

Common issues include:

Issues involving the developmental or  social challenges their children or teens are experiencing

Intergenerational communication problems

Divorce or transitions within the family.

2. Customized Plan: We create a plan for family counseling specific to the needs and goals determined

3. Best Fit:  Family members are seen through the modality that is most fitting.

4. Pre and post Assessment: We measure the progress made during   the duration of our work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life is a quest for meaning and joy, love and connection. A quest for couples is a process to increase the connection, emotional engagement, communication and intimacy over time.

Why?

It occurred to me that offering session by session often lacks the commitment to achieve what couples really want.  A Quest for Couples increases resource and then practice, practice, practice.  Learning new skills, habits, and ways of being with one another takes time. (more…)

What is emotion coaching, you might be wondering?  Emotion coaching is a program designed by the Gottman Institute for parents of children. It is designed to increase empathy, connection, and effective parenting.

Emotional Coaching is based on the research done by Dr John Gottman and joined by Julie Gottman, Clinical Psychologist, Co-Founder of the Gottman Institute on emotional intelligence and its effect on children; tracking how they performed in school, related to their peers, how appropriately they behaved socially and how they related to their parents. Emotion coached kids were more successful as adults on measures like peer friendships, gainful employment and academic performance.

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I was introduced to a friend of a neighbor in our new “digs” recently. I was taken with the question, what do you do? I paused and thought upon that question, usually so easy to answer with my usual professional credentials and response. This time,  however, I was truly struck by the existential challenge. I have thought long and hard over the last couple of days and pondered the answer.  What is it I really do and why do I do it?

The answer in and of itself sheds so many layers of complexity, specialization, and ego in order to find the simple kernel of truth.

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You are in the wedding planning stages- planning the location, the venue, the vibe and the dress, photographer, honeymoon everything to make the day you have both dreamed of come true. And you have such love and excitement planning your lives together. One wedding essential necessary to make sure your marriage is headed for success is pre-marital counseling.

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Welcome to my new website and blog Designing Relationships:     Connect. Deepen. Grow.

I dedicate this blog site to those who live real and ordinary lives that create extraordinary and powerful stories. I believe these stories deserve to be expressed and recognized. They will serve as inspiration and hope. (more…)