It may be hard to believe that happiness can be a choice that you make. Some people are of the mindset that our emotional reactions to our circumstances are instinctive and since we don’t always choose our circumstances, our reaction is simply an automatic response to situations.
Life is filled with experiences, some of which can give indescribable joy and others unbearable sorrow. While you can’t always change your circumstances, you can influence how you respond. The thoughts you have directly impact the way you feel. In order to change your feeling about something you need to consider how you’re thinking about it. This is something that takes practice, time and effort. Furthermore, it’s a skill that you develop which means you get better at it the more you use it. The benefits of this practice far outweigh the work involved in this process of changing the way you think so you can feel differently. Some helpful things to know about how you can choose more happiness for yourself and ultimately your relationship.
1. Practice reframing your thoughts
How we think about things impact the way we feel. The brain processes emotional and physical pain in very similar ways. This means that even after the pain has left, the memory of the pain remains. In the brain, the pain from a broken leg and the anguish of a broken heart share much of the same circuitry. While some experiences (or people) can be avoided others are not so easily avoided.
Take some time to evaluate and reframe the way you think about your experiences and the significant relationships in your life. Reframing involves identifying your unhelpful thoughts and replacing them with more positive or adaptive ones. The experience themselves don’t change but the way you think and feel about them can. Are you having realistic and adaptive thoughts? Or are your thoughts self-defeating, irrational or colored with anger? If you start thinking differently, you will feel differently. By thinking in healthier and more constructive ways you are actually choosing happiness and peace for yourself.
2. Practice mindfulness
During the course of your relationship, there may be some things that your partner does or says that you consider to be bothersome or even have become problematic in your relationship. You can practice mindfulness in those moments to gain control of your emotions. Mindfulness is a state of active and intentional attention on the present. The practice of mindfulness can allow you to control an impulsive reaction to your feelings of irritation or hurt towards your partner. Couples who practice mindfulness have more satisfying relationships as they fight less, have less defensive reactions and are more accommodating toward each other.
3. Work on your communication
Having open and honest communication leads to less opportunities for conflict, greater understanding of each other’s needs and a deeper connection. A lack of communication is a common reason for relationship failures and dissatisfaction.
Often times after being in a relationship with someone for a long period of time, couples tend to form the idea that their feelings and needs should just be understood by one another and don’t need to be expressed. While this may be the case for some couples or in some instances, your partner is not a mind reader nor should they be expected to know all things at all times. That is not a reasonable expectation and as such frustration of unmet needs can and will occur. Keep an open communication line that is judgment free and supportive. Your needs and feelings can change and are not constant over time.
By incorporating these 3 simple practices, you can increase your chances of having a more fulfilling connection with your partner by deepening your emotional and physical intimacy. Your happiness depends much more on your attitude than it does on external circumstances.
Here’s to making your happiness a priority and your responsibility!
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Kerri Anne Brown