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Gratitude and Positive Reframing

Topics: Couples

Note: It is not recommended that this strategy be used for trauma without the guidance of a qualified mental health professional.  

 

Things to consider…
  • Expressing gratitude to a family member or friend. 
  • Thinking of opportunities instead of hassles when reflecting on an event or situation.
  • Answering the following questions: 
    • What can I learn from this experience?
    • Is this situation allowing me to gain new knowledge or practice a new skill?
    • Could this be an opportunity to strengthen a relationship?1
Do you want to know more about this?

Gratitude has been associated with strengthening personal relationships. Algoe and colleagues2 describe a find-remind-bind theory of gratitude. Expressing gratitude can find or initiate a new social relationship, remind people of existing relationships, and bind or strengthen relationships. Feeling and expressing gratitude plays an important role in maintaining relationships by promoting trust and lowering aggression. 

  • FIND new relationships 
  • REMIND existing relationships 
  • BIND strengthen relationships
Gratitude Journal

For the next four weeks, you and your partner commit to taking a few moments each day to write what you are grateful for in a journal or notebook. If possible, try to set a particular time each day (e.g., before you go to bed) to help make this exercise part of your routine. When writing about gratitude, consider:

  • People in your life that you are grateful for 
  • Things you are grateful for that you take for granted 
  • Experiences that bring about feelings of gratitude

After four weeks, reflect on your experience. Has it been helpful? Sharing your gratitude journal with your partner and other family members can also be beneficial. You may want to create a couple or family gratitude journal so you can check-in, express appreciation, and inspire each other with positive thoughts. 

Practice Positive Reframing

Below is a list of situations that are often viewed as neutral or negative. Together, discuss each situation and fill in new, more positive ways to perceive each situation. Take turns and see how many “reframes” you can come up with for each situation. Next, you will have a chance to add your own situations that you can consider together.  

 

References for this page (click to expand)

1Lambert, L. M., Graham, S. M., & Stillman, T. F. (2009). A changed perspective: How gratitude can affect sense of coherence through positive reframing. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(6): 461–470). https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1080/17439760903157182

2Algoe, S. B., Haidt, J., & Gable, S. L. (2008). Beyond reciprocity: Gratitude and relationships in everyday life. Emotion, 8(3), 425–429. https://doi.org/10.1037/1528-3542.8.3.425

Lambert, N. M., Fincham, F. D., & Stillman, T. F. (2012). Gratitude and depressive symptoms: The role of positive reframing and positive emotion. Cognition & Emotion, 26(4), 615-633. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2011.595393

Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. A. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(7), 890–905. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2010.03.005

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