How do you feel when your partner makes a small change that you have been asking for? Suppose you have been unhappy about your partner’s shoes piling up by the door. What would happen if he or she stopped doing that?

It’s logical to think that if something makes you unhappy, and it no longer happens, you will feel happier. That’s often not how it works.

What usually happens is that you’ll quickly forget about the change your partner recently made, and you’ll start focusing on another aggravating thing they do.

It’s as if you have a set level of unhappiness. When things change for the better, you find something else to be upset about.

I call this your Unhappiness Quotient (UQ).  It’s your mental habit of focusing on what’s wrong and being unhappy about it.

If you have a high Unhappiness Quotient, you’ve probably heard your partner say things like “You’re never happy!” or “It’s always glass-half-empty with you!”  You may eventually find that your partner starts avoiding you or hiding things from you.

Without a doubt, your Unhappiness Quotient is getting in the way of a smooth and positive relationship.

The bad news is that you were likely born with your Unhappiness Quotient because it’s largely hereditary. The good news is that if you apply yourself, you can break free of its effects.

How do you fight your Unhappiness Quotient?

There has been a lot of research into what you can do to make yourself happier from the inside. Here are a few ideas from what the research says can help.

  • Acknowledge any positive change.  Force yourself to remember the positive changes your partner has made for you. For example, every time you walk by the front door, make a mental note of how uncluttered it looks without your partner’s shoes.
  • Focus on the good things.  Catch yourself when you start to make a mental list of your partner’s flaws. For every thing that bothers you, push yourself to remember something about your partner that makes you happy.
  • Step into their shoes.  Remember that you make your partner unhappy in some ways, too, and that it would be awful if your partner complained to you about every little thing.

But if you find that lots of things your partner does upset you and you can’t get out of your mental rut, counseling may help.

Positive psychology, a form of counseling that is based on what makes people happy, can help you figure out if your feelings are coming from you, your partner, or a combination. Positive psychology is a short-term, solution-focused form of counseling. Individuals and couples can use it to improve their relationship.

Feel free to contact us for a free consultation, to learn about us and see how we can help.

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Glenn Dale, MD / McLean, VA / Internet