The One Essential Ingredient to Happy Relationships

Good morning to the Savviest Relaters and Smartest Communicators around. Every day, I’m inspired by the people I work with, the students I teach, and the friends I laugh with. Thank you for being a part of that inspiration.

Yeah, I took this picture.... I KNOW, right??!!

Yeah, I took this picture…. I KNOW, right??!!

Today, I want to talk about OPTIMISM and how it can change your relationships. Last weekend, my family and I rented Disney’s Tomorrowland with George Clooney. Tomorrowland is a special place where inventors, visionaries and innovators come together to create a high tech, alternate dimension where anything is possible. Tomorrowland is a place where “the future is in your hands,” “Dreamers are welcome,” and “in every moment, there’s a possibility of a better future.”

I like this place.

I want to find this place.

I want to live in this place. Sans creepy robots.

“In every moment, there is a possibility of a better future…”

In our relationships, we often get bogged down by the negative and the repetitive. We have negative criticisms and points of view, we see the worst instead of the best, we feed negative thoughts and communication. Then, we put these negative patterns on the rinse and repeat cycle and negativity becomes a way of life. When we get stuck in these negative patterns, we start to lose hope that better is possible.

Not that you need this spelled out, or anything, because all of us know what negativity sounds like and feels like. But here are a few you may catch yourself doing in your relationships:

The Negative Nelly

  • Focuses on scarce resources and thinks, “I am not enough, he is not enough, we don’t have enough.”
  • Focuses on perceived incompatible goals and thinks, “We’ll never see eye to eye on this.”
  • Sees the problem instead of the opportunity.
  • Predicts a negative outcome before attempts have ever been made.
  • Focuses on the flaws in another person.
  • Gives up just before the solution is reached.

Because the Negative Nelly is so focused on what is going wrong, he is unable to hope for something right. He is single-mindedly willing himself toward self-destruction with every negative thought he nurses and rehearses. BTW, this line up is also the play list for depression and anxiety disorders. Negativity is not just annoying, it can be down right pathological.


The cure to negativity is simple- it’s optimism. It’s hope. Hope is that little flicker of light when everything else is dark. Hope is the one kindness in a day of harsh reality. Hope is a vision of something better, when all around it just gets worse. Hope says that no one is so lost she can’t be found, or too far gone she can’t be brought back. Hope is a choice.

Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts…

I think changing our relationships is more about changing our perspective than anything else. I think that our relationships can never getter better unless we see the good in them that already exists. I think that focusing on the good makes the bad less powerful, that holding out hope gives life to a dying relationship, and believing the best makes more of the best happen. I believe that all hope is gone only when the last person stops hoping. Hope itself has the power.

Hope On Fleek

( Just in case you need help with tween slang.

Here is what it looks like to let HOPE be a guide to your relationships. A person who looks at her relationships with optimism and hope…

  • Focuses on what is available and believes it is sufficient, “I’m enough, he is enough, and we have enough.”
  • Focuses on the strengths of the relationship, instead of the weaknesses.
  • Brings out the positive in the other person, and sets him/her up for relational success.
  • Sees the opportunity for growth and success in any problem.
  • Predicts a positive outcome for each challenge.
  • Doesn’t give up on something she really believes in until it is completed.

You may find yourself in a negative spin or a hopeless cycle. You don’t have to be. You’re not alone. We’ve all been there, and everyone who has ever been in a relationship knows that relationships can be dark, lonely and cold at times. But they don’t have to be. Hold out hope for yourself. Hold out hope for him or her. Chose to believe the best. Your choice toward hope can change the relationship atmosphere.

Many of the things that seem impossible now, will become realities tomorrow.”

— Walt Disney

You may have had to say goodbye to a relationship, and the hope of reconciliation is gone. All of us have to face this in one form or another. Part of forgiveness is holding out hope for the other person to find herself, to be restored to God, and to become whole. Believing the best for that person is essential for moving on.

Though our earthly relationships are sometimes a mixed bag of love, heartache, warmth and disappointment, we have one Relationship that never fails.

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My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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