It’s amazing how fast something new can become routine. We start a new job, make a new friend, or learn a new skill, and two weeks later it’s just part of our life. Have you ever marveled at how fast that sense of newness can wear off?
When you buy a new car, how often do you wash it and then stand back just to admire its design? How about six months later, does it still get the same amount of attention? We get used to things really fast. This is how adaptability works. But there are areas of life where keeping that sense of newness can really add to our quality of life, especially in a relationship.
The problem with adaptability is that once the newness wears off, it is really easy to start taking things (and people) for granted. That shiny new car that we thought so much of becomes last year’s model. That exciting new job becomes the grind. And if we aren’t careful, that amazing new relationship starts to get way less appreciation than it deserves. Of course, we all like to think “that’s not going to happen,” especially when it comes to that special relationship. But it does happen, and we’ve all seen it happen.
What allows us to continue appreciating a relationship, even after the newness wears off are two important things: GRATITUDE and FOCUS. If you focus on the wonderful qualities of someone, then you can’t help but feel grateful for having them in your life. And if you are grateful, then you will take the time to focus on their wonderful qualities. The two feed off each other. This also works the other way around, so be careful. The more you focus on someone’s imperfections, the more fault you will find and the less gratitude you will feel. So if you want to keep your relationship alive with feelings of appreciation and gratitude, focus on the good and avoid faultfinding. In reality, we all have plenty of faults and we appreciate it when others don’t shine a spotlight on ours.
Here are five strategies we can use to avoid the tendency to take a relationship for granted.
- Remember. You are in this relationship for one or more reasons. Do you remember what qualities attracted you to them in the first place? How often do you take the time to appreciate those special qualities? Remembering why that person came to be part of your life can help keep your appreciation for them alive and healthy.
- Recount. As long as you are thinking about how special your relationship is, why not mention it? Verbalizing your positive feelings will also serve to reinforce them in your heart.
- Notice. Do you still notice the many ways that those special qualities manifest themselves? It’s entirely possible to remember what attracted you to that person, and still fail to notice their current expressions of those same qualities. Living in the moment helps us to really see how valuable a relationship is to us.
- Respond. We respond with appreciation through personal interaction. When someone you care about is doing something that you appreciate, can they sense your approval? Does your response send a clear message of approval and appreciation? Whether it’s a smile, an appreciative comment, or a helping hand, feed your relationship with positive feedback and other signs of approval.
- Attitude. Do you have the attitude of gratitude for those special people in your life? Do you count them among your blessings? If so, then the four steps above will come easily and naturally for you. However, if it’s a struggle for you, try spending some time each day thinking about how grateful you are to have this relationship in your life, and why. Never underestimate the power of gratitude.
In a relationship, newness is all about perception. Familiarity does not need to diminish our level of wonder and appreciation. We can all cultivate this kind of relationship appreciation. Applying the 5 strategies above will help you keep things new while avoiding the tendency to take anything, or anyone, for granted.
Renewal of Attitudes and Priorities
The continuous renewal process offers great opportunities for those committed to improving the quality of their life. People often expend a great deal of time and energy on the acquisition of money and attention. When it comes to leading a purposeful, meaningful life, those burdens of success can impede rather than improve the possibilities for creating the life you desire. At some point it becomes necessary to renew old attitudes, reduce unwanted reactions, and resolve unwanted relationship issues that drain the vitality and drain the joy out of life.