EducationGratitude Exercises

Craig Toonder, MFT. Oakland Couples Counseling

Gratitude Exercises

Gratitude and appreciation plays a pivotal role in helping couples feel secure and appreciated by their partners.

A simple exercises couples can do, is list three things they appreciate about each other every day. Keep in mind that items on the list are not as important as developing the mindset of appreciating your partner. In other words, it is more important to develop the habit of continuously taking note of your partner and sharing your gratitude with him or her, than it is to come up with three things a day.

A more advanced skill in the art of appreciation requires a bit more mindfulness. It involved slowing down and really letting yourself be affected by your partner. It requires focusing on present moment experience. Finally, it involves passing present moment experience back and forth between each other.

It works like this:


Partner A: When you appreciate your partner, take a moment to really let yourself feel the appreciation. Move out of just thinking about it and actually feel it in your body, in particular, in your heart. Share your appreciation from the heart.


Partner B: As the receiver, let yourself be affected by your partner’s gratitude. Instead of thinking of something nice to say about him or her in return, slow yourself down and let yourself really notice what feels good about being appreciated. Share this experience with your partner from your heart.


Partner A: As you receive the affect you had on your partner by appreciating him or her, let yourself be affected by how you affected your partner. Again, feel it in your body. Let your self deeply experience it. Then share your present moment experience with your partner.


Continue to pass your appreciation for each other back and forth for as long as you like.  The more deeply you let yourself feel it, the more you can share. The more you share, the more affect you will have on your partner. The more you two affect each other over time, the more your blood stream will flood with happy hormones like dopamine. So don’t be surprised if you being to feel a little high after 10-15 minutes.

Remember the key to this exercise is to feel the affects in the present moment. This is not an intellectually exercise.