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Take a moment to say goodbye (DW#348)

Mornings can be a very busy time in families. People rushing to wake up, eat (or not!), get ready and get out of the door to make it in time for work, school or chores.

We are often busy thinking about what is ahead of us and may miss an important time of the day to connect with loved ones before everyone heads out of the door.

So take a moment to connect and say goodbye. Ask about what is ahead for them that day. What are they looking forward to or concerned about?

A simple ritual like this doesn’t take much time or energy. But it has a powerful impact on our personal well being and sense of connection with our loved ones.

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Celebrate their good fortune (DW#347)

Barbara Frederickson in her book Love 2.0 focuses on two different types of love: compassionate love and celebratory love.

Compassionate love is when our hearts open up to feel someone’s pain and we wish them a sense of well-being.

Celebratory love is, as the name implies, when we witness someone else’s happiness or good fortune and CELEBRATE it with them.

How do we do this?

When we see someone with a spring in their step and a smile on their face, we can take a moment to celebrate their apparent happiness and beam them a silent, virtual high five!

Barbara silently says to herself, "May your happiness and good fortune continue!"

Also when a loved one shares a story about their success with you, CELEBRATE IT!!!

While much counseling focuses on helping couples and families deal with the challenges in their relationships, Fredrickson’s research suggests that it’s actually WAY more important to get REALLY good at celebrating the POSITIVE stuff!

So today’s...

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Think loving thoughts (DW#346)

Today’s OTL can be done all on your own.

The practice is to intentionally think positive thoughts about your loved one when they are not present with you.

It is clear that how and what we think about has an impact on our relationships because it ends up influencing the way we act and the way we talk to them.

When we intentionally bring to mind something we like about our loved ones, some kindness or love that they have shown us or some pleasant interaction that we may have had in the past, it allows our heart to soften and we can act in loving ways when we do see them.
So go ahead. Set a reminder if you have to.

Think loving thoughts and hold the thoughts for at least 15 seconds. (This is the time it takes for a thought to begin to change our brain chemistry)

Soften and allow yourself to smile at the memory or the thought.
Repeat often for best results :)

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Express physical affection (DW#345)

Science is making it clear that our brains and our bodies are designed to thrive with affectionate touch from our loved ones.

While we affectionately hug and cuddle young children naturally, this seems to taper off as they grow, although human beings never actually outgrow their need for loving touch.

Various studies have shown that people of all ages experience increases in physical and emotional wellbeing when they experience affectionate and appropriate touch.

Studies have found that when a husband holds his wife's hand during labour, for example, her pain measurably decreases. And interestingly, the more empathy a person feels for the person in pain, the more their brains are synchronized and the feeling of pain diminishes.

Scientists have also found that subliminal touching (touching so subtle that it’s not consciously perceived) dramatically increases a person’s sense of well-being and positive feelings toward the ‘toucher’.

One study found that people...

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More than a peck (DW#344)

According to our friend Dr. Gottman, couples should kiss for at least 6 seconds at a time, every day, to maintain a healthy relationship.

Why six seconds? According to Dr. Gottman, this "kiss with potential" is "long enough to feel romantic," yet it doesn’t make the kids late for school :)

It turns out that kissing has many many health benefits as well: it releases oxytocin, the bonding hormone, which means that the more you kiss, the more you bond.

Kissing also releases dopamine, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain. The butterflies you get in your stomach when you kiss? They come from epinephrine and norepinephrine, which increase your heartbeat and send oxygenated blood to your brain. Some studies have even shown that kissing can cause a reduction in the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone, so kissing could help lower your blood pressure and prevent heart attacks.

So for part of the OTL challenge, kiss your spouse for 6 seconds twice a day for the...

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The eyes are the gateway to the heart (DW#343)

When was the last time you looked your spouse in the eye?

When we are first courting, we may spend a long time lovingly gazing into each other’s eyes but this becomes a rarity in long term committed relationships.

Yet scientists believe that eye contact may well be the most potent trigger for connection and oneness. Although hearing someone’s voice such as over a telephone, may sometimes create a micro-moment of connection, physical presence is generally essential for bonding and attachment.

A meeting of the eyes then, is a key gateway to neural synchrony. When you look another person in the eye, your brains activity synchronizes and in some ways, the two brains start behaving as one.

So for today’s OTL challenge, find an opportunity to look your spouse in the eye. It can feel weird and vulnerable at first, especially if you have not done this in a while.

Please don’t let it stop you.

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The 60 second secret to great relationships (DW#342)

It is human nature that we begin to take what is going well for granted. Our brains have a default setting to pay attention only when something is off or not to our liking.

Intentional relationships that bring us joy require us to switch off our default settings. They require that we begin to notice all the things that our family members do on a daily basis that are pleasing or make our life better in some way.

And then to share our appreciation with them.

It is a simple but powerful practice to pay attention to what is going well.

I call it the 60 second way to turn a relationship around.

Start noticing what they are doing right, and express your appreciation for it and then watch the magic happen.
You’re welcome

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The OTL challenge (DW#341)

We have been talking about building love by taking advantage of the micro-moments of connectivity and positivity resonance.

For the next few days, lets explore some practical ways we can practice OTLs (opportunities to love).

The key is to make practicing OTLs
1} intentional and
2} consistent
until they become part of your relationship rituals.

Are you ready to begin the OTL challenge? Commit to creating at least three micro-moments of connection every day with your significant other and watch love blossom.

For those of us who are feeling less than creative at the moment, we will share some simple OTLs to consider. Of course, feel free to add to these and do share if you come up with a creative OTL that we can learn from!

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The magic ratio (DW#340)

Let’s be realistic. Every exchange that we have with others will not be positive. In fact, the closer and older the relationship we have with another, especially our family members, the more likely that there will be times when we are less than our best selves (to put it mildly!)

Thankfully, our close relationships can survive with a bit of negativity. But in order to thrive, we do need to keep the negative interactions to a minimum.

According to Dr. John Gottman’s extensive research, there is a very specific ratio that makes marital love last.

That "magic ratio" is 5 to 1. This means that for every negative interaction, a stable and happy couple has five (or more) positive interactions with each other.

What this means for love in our relationships is that even during conflict, we need to be intentional about keeping the tone respectful and friendly, show signs of affection, humor and fondness for the other.

In other words we can find OTLs even when the other person is...

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The biology of love is momentary (DW#339)

As we have been saying, when two or more people are sharing micro-moments of connection, it creates a back-forth exchange of warmth and positive energy that sustains itself and can grow stronger with each exchange.

The positive energy or "positivity resonance" (aka love), however, only lasts as long as the connection. When the connection wanes, so does this resonance or biological love response.

This is of course inevitable, because it is how emotions work. They come and they go.

In order to sustain these feelings and the positive energy they generate, we need to keep finding OTLs and keep practicing these gestures to create these micro-moments of connection.

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