Sweeten Things Up

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By J.R. Dalton
Have you ever made sweet tea? If not, then humor me for the moment because this is good. Having gratitude in a relationship is like trying to sweeten tea. If you incorporated your sugar while the tea was still steaming hot, then it dissolved and you would have had no problem with it tasting sweet once it cooled. On the other hand if you tried to stir in the sugar once the tea had already been chilled, the sugar would likely swirl around for a few moments before gradually floating to the bottom of your container. Imagine that gratitude is the sugar or “sweetness” in your relationships, the container is life, and the tea is your relationship. When the relationship started, it was hot and romantic and the sweet things were easy to mix in, but as time rolled on the relationship cooled and the sweetness settled until those times you chose to stir it up again; perhaps it was a date, a love letter just because, or a day inside to just spend with each other. Showing appreciation is the continuous revisiting of those moments, that first love romance, and the kindness where you stirred the tea again and maybe even threw in more sugar. 
If you’re looking to add some flavor, maybe even more sweetness, into your relationships you don’t need to go looking in the latest issue of Cosmo or read too deeply into the family at church that you have always seen smiling. Given that being grateful is as simple as expressing appreciation, it isn’t something you’d have to prepare super long for or practice once a year on a holiday. Instead let Christmas be your inspiration to reach for a deeper level of sweetness in your relationships. That goes for friendships and family connections as well as romantic relationships. Gratitude has been found, by Psychologists at Vu University in Amsterdam, to be one of the leading elements to happy and affectionate couples. Though concepts of communication and trust largely contribute to healthy relationships, gratitude is equally as much a fundamental aspect of relational development, and during the holiday season talking about thankfulness is a given. 
Dr. Jeremy Nichols, Ph.D. also surmised that a healthier cycle of loving behavior could be increased among platonic and romantic relationships if people were to actively express appreciation and assess the feeling of gratitude in themselves. This is as simple as the age old saying puts it. Don’t take the little things in life for granted.” Dr. Nichols believes that if we are to change the flow of love in our culture we must start by recognizing “the efforts of others that are costly to them and beneficial to us” (Sept. 2011) i.e. gratitude. 

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