Are You Positive?

Are You Positive?

When my children were little, I used to read to them every night before bed. One of the books that I loved and one that they asked for over and over was the classic children’s book The Little Engine that Could. Remember that one? It was about the little train engine that had to overcome a tall mountain with a big load and was able to do so because of the positive repeated mantra of “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” As a young adult I remember reading for myself another best seller in the area of self-help and spirituality by Norman Vincent Peale called The Power of Positive Thinking which supported the notion that having a positive frame of mind could improve one’s life and living. My daughter is an athlete and I hear coaches telling her and the team “stay positive out there” when things begin to get a little dicey. Now as an adult therapist I read study after study supporting the effects of one’s mindset on health and well being. Cancer patients, heart patients, chronic pain patients, and on and one have benefited by creating and supporting a more positive mind set.

What about marriages and relationships? Don’t you suppose that feeling positive and behaving in a positive manner would create good things in your important relationships? Well, you suppose rightly! Marital researcher and author John Gottman has discovered this interesting fact in his work. In studies of couples who report high levels of marital satisfaction Dr. Gottman found that in the good times (times of low conflict and low stress), these couples report a 20 to 1 ratio of positive to negative exchanges between them. That is, for every bump or gripe or complaint or disagreement, there are twenty positive, hopeful, loving comments or actions! These same couples report in the bad times (times of high conflict and high stress) a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative exchanges. Think about that. Even when things are rough, these couples remain intentional about making sure of the love, support, and affirmation they express to one another.

I’m not bold enough to ask you just yet to shoot for the 20 to 1 ratio (but of course, that would be great if you did!) but how about this? Let’s say you and your spouse or significant other were to commit today to each coming up with and expressing 5 (only 5!) wonderful, loving, affirming, and positive things to say or otherwise express to one another before bedtime tonight and I mean this even and perhaps especially if things are a little rough at home right now. Do you believe that doing so might change the whole course of your day? Do you believe that your mood, self esteem and hopefulness would elevate some? I’m positive they would!