I admit it. I sometimes cry watching Hallmark movies. Even though they are sappy and predictable, there is often something in the story or the characters that evokes a response in me. Perhaps it is because they are so predictable that I can turn off the part of my mind that tries to figure out and solve problems. I can allow the part of my brain that controls empathy and emotion to come to the forefront and I can share the experience of the characters and the story.
Interestingly, our ability to share in the experience of others is more predictive of the strength of the relationship than problem solving or resolution of conflict. Our own ability to share positive events and emotions with another as well as our ability to hear and celebrate the good news that another person shares with us builds strong relationships. Too often, I simply want to share my own questions, problems, or complaints with others while keeping my celebrations to a minimum in an attempt at humility. Similarly, I often want to analyze, solve, or critique the stories that people share with me. I want to rationalize rather than experience.
During this month in which we are exploring gratitude, we might intentionally reach out to someone with whom we can be grateful. We could look for positive events in our daily life to share and ask about events in the other person’s day to celebrate together. Perhaps my Hallmark training will come in handy as I try to turn off my problem solving to turn on my relationship building.
For more information, see: What Do You Do When Things Go Right? The Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Benefits of Sharing Positive Events