Science has now proven how gratitude can improve your love life (including your sex life).
I know, the connection may seem a little murky or like a big leap, but it’s actually very clear and direct. If you’ll stick with me, I’ll connect the dots…
First, gratitude can make your entire life happier. And it can specifically mitigate depression and anxiety, help you fall asleep more easily, make you more resistant to stress, and improve myriad bodily functions. (These factors all contribute to a better love life.)
Moreover, when you sincerely express gratitude for your loved ones, it can significantly improve your relationships.
But it gets even better more interesting…
Rick Hanson, PhD, scientist, psychologist, and author says:
“The brain is like Velcro for the bad and Teflon for the good.”
The brain has a negativity bias born of survival needs. We need to look out for danger. As a result, we’re neurologically less inclined to notice and remember the good stuff in life.
Think about it. Suppose you have a 20-point job performance review. Your boss says you’re doing great on 19 items, but you need improvement on one – which one are you going to obsess over on the way home?
How would you feel if your intimate partner gave you regular “performance reviews”? (Maybe you feel like they do :)) What if those reviews were about your performance in bed?
And what do you imagine the response would be if you gave your partner “performance reviews”?
Would you give and receive A-Pluses? If you did, how good would that feel?
But I definitely don’t recommend keeping a scorecard. It’s far better to simply focus on the positive and communicate that to your partner.
At the end of the day, how many things do you remember that went right, as compared to those that went wrong – including all those little nit-picky things and other minor irritations?
It’s so easy to tell our loved ones what’s not quite right – what needs fixing. But do we balance it with sufficient expressions of appreciation or gratitude and outright thanks?
Here’s how this relates to your sex life:
When you express appreciation for your partner in any way, it will engender good vibes that may lead to more action in the bedroom.
Better yet, if you combine a physical expression of appreciation, like a hug and/or kiss, with your words, the two of you will start to associate the good feelings with your sensual connection.
And if you verbally tell your partner something you appreciate about their physicality or sensuality at least once a day, it can really light up your sex life – believe me! For example, you might talk about how you enjoy the feeling of their hands on your body, or cuddling on the couch, or the texture of their skin or hair, or how you feel when you look deeply into his or her eyes when you’re making love.
Remember Behavior Modification? (It’s basically about emphasizing only the behavior you want to see more of). In many ways, you’re using this principle when you express appreciation for things your partner does (as opposed to qualities of being).
Both types of appreciation are good. You might focus on how you’re grateful that your partner keeps the bathroom or closet neat or takes out the trash. Or you can use this principle for better sex…
For example, if you want to freshen up a ho-hum routine in bed, while you’re making love, you could say, “I love it when I don’t know where you’re going to caress me next.” This has double-whammy impact, because your partner will feel good while his or her brain starts looking for unexpected ways to caress you.
Try to keep the ratio of words of gratitude to “constructive criticism” to at least 3:1…
Rick Hanson further says:
The negativity bias shows up in lots of ways. For example, studies have found that:
- In a relationship, it typically takes five good interactions to make up for a single bad one.
- People will work much harder to avoid losing $100 than they will work to gain the same amount of money.
- Painful experiences are much more memorable than pleasurable ones.*
Notice that first bullet point (which I bolded for impact).
For this reason, I suggest you make a concerted effort to tell your partner (and your family members, co-workers, and friends) specific ways in which you appreciate them and that you’re grateful to have them in your life (assuming it’s true).
If you can’t manage a 5:1 ratio words of gratitude to “constructive criticism,” try to keep the ratio of to at least 3:1.
If you do this, you’ll start to notice that you’re focusing on the good, just to come up with something positive to say. You see, with a goal of gratitude… of finding things to appreciate… your brain has to start searching and filtering for the positive aspects of your relationship and everyday interactions. This alone will make you happier (and more attractive to your partner).
And before long, given the energetics of reciprocity, you’ll probably notice others are expressing more gratitude for you in return.
The Neuroscience of Gratitude
Here’s an article that provides additional information and some “how to” steps to reap the benefits of gratitude.
* From Rick Hanson’s site: http://www.rickhanson.net/take-in-the-good/