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The Power of Appreciation

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Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds. ~ William Shakespeare

First the science of appreciation: John M. Gottman, PhD, the country’s foremost relationship expert, found that what set apart marriages that succeeded (as opposed to the 67% of first marriages that ended in divorce) was a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. He found that even the smallest gestures of appreciation counted—a smile, a pat, a “thank you.” This magic ratio isn’t confined to marriage. The same principle applies to all relationships.*

Here’s my favorite tool for injecting some quick positive energy: Appreciation Loops. You can use them any time you like, in any relationship, without dependence on the moods or actions of your partner. You can feel a shift in the dynamic immediately.

Appreciation loops follow this formula: Take a moment to say to your partner, “What I appreciate about you is…” and fill in the end of the sentence. Honesty is crucial. Try this without planning or even knowing where your sentence is going to end. See what comes up.

The magic of this practice lies in its independence from the other person’s action. Your appreciation is not contingent on your partner’s behavior. You are not saying “I would appreciate you if…” Nothing is more powerful than not trying to change the other.

Instead, appreciation works like a circuit breaker to interrupt negative cycles: “We interrupt this regularly scheduled unhappiness to focus on the positive!”

Notice how challenging this can be in the middle of conflict and insecurity. What becomes possible when you face your partner and say “What I appreciate about you is…”? When you change your focus to the positive, your world changes.

Using this tool when the relationship is already thriving is like building a bank account to draw on later.

Beyond ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing there’s a field. Will you meet me there?
~ Rumi

Try the appreciation formula on three relationships:
the relationship most important to you at this moment,
the relationship that needs it the most right now,
and the relationship that needs it the least.

*This practice is not intended to “fix” a toxic relationship. Any relationship in which violence, drug abuse, or mental health problems are involved needs assistance from appropriate professionals.


  1. July 23, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Morgana,

    Thanks for the lessons in gratitude and abundance. I appreciate you and your blog. My Best Always, Spike

  2. July 31, 2008 at 9:39 am

    It is much more fun and the positive energy takes over when appreciation is in the relationship. I appreciate this reminder you gave about appreciation and the power of letting people know what it is that you appreciate about them.

  3. October 20, 2009 at 1:53 am

    I appreciate the statistic of 5:1 pos to neg. It is a good reminder to help us flourish in our relationships.
    What I really appreciated though is the clarification that toxic relationships do need additional help. Survivors in these relationships already think that they can “change” the situation by being nice and being a punching bag.
    Thank you,
    Alex

  4. February 16, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I am listening to your Manifest Everything Now replay. The thing that you said upfront is the one thing that has defined my ongoing recovery from alcoholism and a compulsive gambling problem. HONESTY, within and about self. Not matter what it is. I am in the process of changing my relationship with money and I really appreciate you sharing your personal insights. I know that sharing our inner most feelings and experiences can be fearful and challenging. I admire you for your courage and am grateful for you.

  5. February 16, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I just listened to your call on ManifestEverythingNow and was immediately ‘taken’ with what you had to say. My late husband (of 35 years) and I had a wonderful marriage..and one of expressed appreciation…it really is vital in any relationship. The one thing my husband never wanted to feel was…’taken for granted’…and it sparked more than one conversation.
    I practice that same thing in my own online business. The first thing I do, when I make even the smallest sale, is to write a personal note of thanks and appreciation. I think it goes a long way in daily life.
    Thank you for your insights….I look forward to eliminating the ‘Money Monster’ in my own life and finding me a wonderful new ‘Money Honey’:)

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