A couple of years ago, in a series of random events, I ended up on a Geocaching adventure. If you’ve never done this, it’s pretty fun. Using compasses and very specific directions, my team and I were to find a hidden treasure. Although I was placed with a team of superstar Geocachers, we didn’t end up as the winning team. Despite our best efforts, our measurements were just a hair off, which sent us to a completely different spot than the one where the treasure was placed.
“I don’t understand!” I lamented to our instructor. “We followed the directions exactly!”
She told me it was very easy to go the wrong way, even despite careful efforts, because the Geocaching required such precision. “One small wrong move here, one tiny mistake there, and before you’re know it, you’re at the wrong end of the field,” she explained.
When I think about relationships, I often think they’re kind of like Geocaching. If we get sloppy and let our words and our actions slip into negativity (a little here, a bit more there), years later we’ve ended up at a place we don’t want to be. Way way way far away from the treasure.
We can’t go through life monitoring our thinking with the precision of a Geocacher (Trust me. I’ve tried it and it’s absolutely no fun) but we can utilize a simple and effective way to counter the daily irritations and frustrations of living a life with someone else. Enter: Three Servings of Gratitude.
I started this exercise several months ago, when I decided to narrow my coaching practice down to those dealing with dating and relationship issues. Each week I would spend hours talking to people who were struggling to find a loving and caring partner. They would tell me of the difficulties of being single, how hard it was to date in their 30′s, 40′s, and 50′s, and how much they wished not to come home to an empty house after work.
Of course I knew their struggles well. I had lived them myself, for years. But see, something funny happens to us humans when we get something we’ve wanted for a while. We quickly forget how much it was wanted in the first place. We forget our hard work to obtain it. We start complaining.
It’s true, isn’t it? We often take things and people for granted once we have them.
Call it human nature. And there is a cure. That cure is consistent appreciation.
So after a day of coaching people on dating and relationship woes, I would think, “You know what? I’m so grateful that I have such a kind and caring husband.” Then I would think of 3 things about my husband I was grateful for. I would often share these with him. Hence, I started giving three servings of gratitude daily.
Just try it. Be sincere. Be grateful for three things about your partner, each day. It will begin to change everything. It will reset your thinking. It will give you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. It may even inspire your partner to start serving up his own gratitude. (But don’t mind if it doesn’t because that’s not the point of this activity).
While you’re at it, start appreciating all of the other good stuff in your life too. You know, like the fact that you can afford to buy a Starbucks latte. That the guy in front of you let you merge into traffic. That you woke up today and were able to breathe. That you have the ability to read.
You just may realize, as I did, that you are rich beyond words.