How gratitude can increase your dating success
Dating can be hard. Sometimes, really hard. It’s easy to get bogged down in the constant roller coaster of emotions, the expectations, rejections and disappointments. Sometimes, staying at home on the couch with a tub of ice-cream binge-watching your favourite TV series feels like a much better option than getting dressed up to go out and meet someone who will probably disappoint you (notice negative bias here).
But it doesn’t have to be this hard. We all know that we are at our most attractive to potential dates when we are living our best life.
When our wellbeing is at an all time high, we are more confident, we enjoy being around people and sharing stories about ourselves, we like dressing up to showcase our favourite assets (yes, we all have ONE), and we are more fun to be around.
When our mindset is switched to positive, we find ourselves expecting positive things to happen, thinking positive thoughts, telling ourselves positive things and feeling positive emotions. This becomes a wonderful cycle that tends to lead to positive outcomes (and dates) for most people.
So how can you live your best life?
The latest thinking from the Positive Psychology camp informs us that gratitude is one of the most powerful tools in our mindset and wellbeing toolkits. U.S. Psychologists McCollough and Emmons conducted an experiment to explore the relationship between gratitude and wellbeing (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2003). The study split several hundred people into three different groups and all of the participants were asked to keep daily diaries.
The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day without being told specifically to write about, either good or bad things; the second group was told to record their unpleasant experiences; and the last group was instructed to make a daily list of things for which they were grateful.
The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy. In addition, those in the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals.
And how can you get more of this in YOUR life?
One of the fathers of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, created a very simple, yet highly effective exercise called ‘Three Good Things’ (Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, 2012).
It requires you to sit down at the end of each day and write down the three good things that occurred in your day. Not the amazing things, not the extraordinary things, just the good things. He found that people who engaged in this activity over a 6-month period reported greater levels of wellbeing, happiness and confidence and reduced symptoms of depression.
This stuff really works. By choosing to focus on the positive things in your life you actually rewire your brain with a positive bias. Because you know that you’ll need to recall them at the end of the day, your brain becomes hyper-tuned-in to the good things as they happen. So you become more present in the positive moments and fight off your brain’s natural tendency to scan for the negatives.
I often ask my clients to take this exercise one step further by connecting with a ‘Gratitude Buddy’. By choosing someone in your life that you can share your three good things with each night, you make each other accountable and have the added bonus of enhancing each others’ lives too. For example, you might agree with your best friend/brother/mentor that you will SMS each other at 9pm every night with your three good things.
If you prefer a digital gratitude practice, try something like this.
So what does this mean for your dating life?
Here’s the kicker. Gratitude makes you more DATEABLE.
In real terms, it improves your social capital. Essentially, this means the quality of your relationships and your reputation among social groups improves. In two studies with 243 total participants, those who were 10% more grateful than average had 17.5% more social capital. Research shows that gratitude makes us nicer, more trusting, more social, and more appreciative. As a result, it helps us make more friends, deepen our existing relationships, and improve our marriage (source).
Now, who wouldn’t want to date someone with these qualities? How grateful are you? Take this fun and free quiz to find out.
Do you have thoughts you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. And if you are ready to narrow down the world of possibilities, sign up to eharmony today- find someone made for you.
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