Having a Bad Day? I Call Bullshit

From: http://serafimabogomolova.com/2012/05/a-bad-day-you-bet/Have you ever been around someone who’s having a “bad day”? For whatever reason, some happenings in their day have not gone as planned, and they are in a bad mood. They’ve labeled the whole day as bad. They are not fun to be around, especially if it’s our significant other.

How we define undesirable happenings in our lives is very important. Sure, these happenings are not what we hoped for and they have negative consequences for us. But the extent of those consequences is up to us. If you are viewing the world through dark-colored glasses because you’re having a “bad day,” I guarantee more bad things will happen to you. The amount of “positive” or “negative” you experience every day is largely up to how you perceive and react to events.

Consider that a negative event doesn’t actually make your day bad. It just means that you’ve had a negative incident. It’s an isolated event that doesn’t have to lead to more negativity. The meaning that we ascribe to an event has a large impact on how we actually experience it.

This is relevant in relationships too. If you or your partner perceive unhappy events as ruining a whole day, it can bring you both down. It’s difficult to thrive together unless you both choose to shift to a broader and more optimistic outlook.

If you’re a person who views days as “good” or “bad,” consider how this is impacting your partner, friends, and coworkers. Next consider how you can choose to accept a bad event for what it is and deal with it, without making it bigger than that. One suggestion, if you find your mental path on a downward spiral, is to identify three things to appreciate that day. Know that it will make you and everyone around you happier.

(This was originally posted as part of Pacific San Diego Magazine's Relationship & Sex Blog series.)

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego, CA -- Sexologist, Sex Therapist, Sociologist, Sexuality Speaker

Grateful160 for Counting Your Blessings

“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.” ~Humor Columnist, Harold Coffin

http://www.abundance-and-happiness.com/gratitude.htmlWant some help counting your own blessings? I’m a huge proponent of doing “daily gratitudes,” where you write down three to five things you are grateful for in the past day. This activity is a keystone of the burgeoning science of happiness field, and there is mounting evidence that such activities have a profound impact on increasing optimism and improving happiness. (In my field, this is quite related to building happy relationships and fulfilling sex lives.) When reflecting on your day, your appreciations need not be the big things in your life, such as your partner, job, or car, but can be the little things, such as a seeing a spray of wildflowers on the side of the road, cashing in your “10th one for free” on your coffee card, hearing your favorite song on the radio, or eating at a delicious Thai restaurant.

If you struggle with accountability when starting new habits such as this, you can now sign up for an online gratitude journal called grateful160. Reminders are sent to you via email or text to assist in recording your daily gratitude list. When you reply to this correspondence with your gratitudes for the day, they are stored online for you. Every Friday you receive a review email listing all your daily gratitude entries for the past week.

I’ve been using this program for the past three weeks, and I’ve found the gentle nudge to record my gratitudes through email keeps me more accountable. I really enjoy the weekly recap and I’ve been surprised by how much of the week I had already forgotten. This review of what I appreciated was also an experience of savoring my positive experiences, which is another hallmark of the happiness research. I’m not sure what the “160” represents in the title, but grateful160 can support you in appreciating your life, 365 days of the year.

(Originally posted as part of Pacific San Diego Magazine's Love & Sex Blog.)

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego, CA -- Sexologist, Sex Therapist, Sociologist, Sexuality Speaker

Guest Blog for The Happiness Coach - Focus on What IS Working In Your Relationship

This was posted this week to The Happiness Coach's Blog:

One of the most significant conclusions from the positive psychology research is that other people matter to our happiness.  Anyone in a committed relationship knows well that our partner can have a HUGE effect on our emotions.  In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve asked my good friend, San Diego relationship and intimacy expert, Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, to be the guest writer for the newsletter this week.  She shares one of the best ways to bring more positivity into our primary relationship. – Eric Karpinski, The Happiness Coach

Complain. Bitch. Moan.

It is easy to complain when we have been in a relationship for a while. When dating, everything is new and exciting about our partner, and we are more likely to express our gratitude. However, in the long run, we often take for granted the positive aspects of the relationship. But before you start blaming yourself here, consider that this negativity bias is genetically influenced. As a survival mechanism, we are programmed, just like other animals, to notice what is wrong or not working. Unfortunately, this negativity bias can be a real drag in a relationship if you are on the receiving end of continuous complaints.

I suggest consciously making a shift from being in a relationship that is based on survival, to a relationship that is about thriving. Try focusing on what is working instead of what is not working. This is a strengths-based approach to perceiving your partner. When you consciously choose to see what is already strong and positive, you can break through your negativity bias and prime yourself for even more optimism. Choosing optimism is a much stronger foundation for the relationship to continue to grow and evolve.

A practical way to put this shift into action is to write a list of at least 20 things you appreciate about your partner. What are his/her strengths? Positive characteristics? What traits made you fall in love? Share your lists with each other, and post them in a place where you will see them often. Another way to integrate greater positivity into your relationship is to end each day with sharing two or three appreciations with your partner. What did he/she do that day that you appreciated? Did your partner nurture you? Spend quality time? Make you laugh? Take turns going first each night. If you find yourself continuing to struggle with negativity, every time you file a complaint, take on the challenge of also finding two ways to compliment your partner.

Making these activities a regular part of your interactions will infuse your relationship with a conscious positivity. Not only will this assist you both in recognizing each other’s strengths, it also makes you feel appreciated, and opens your hearts and brains to greater resiliency and creativity in the relationship. These are all key components to growing and thriving!

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego, CA -- Sex Therapist, Marriage Counselor, Sexologist, & College Sexual Health Speaker

Act Happy Week! Should you fake it until you make it?

Is faking it until you make it a good idea regarding your happiness? Actually yes - it's not just an irritating Polyannna approach. Sometimes it is helpful and powerful to put a smile on your face and consciously switch to thinking positively, as a way of transforming your outlook. This can then cascade into greater creativity, health, and relationships.

Rachel Curtis, a journalist in Chicago, writes about "Act Happy Week" and interviewed me about these topics in positive psychology. Read article here.

Jennifer Gunsaullus, Ph.D.

Sex Therapy & Relationship Counseling in San Diego~

More Happiness = Better Sex?

In this Christmas episode of "In the Den with Dr. Jenn," Coach Karpo (Eric Karpinski) drops by to talk about the importance of optimism and being happy for better sex and relationships!

Coach Karpo

"Positivity" by Barbara Fredrickson