Jim and Cindy Wigdahl changed my life with their love story.
It was a freezing cold night in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I was traipsing through the streets, lugging around a heavy bag of recording gear and looking for the Wigdahls. I was accompanied by the typical nerves that come when meeting two complete strangers and asking them to divulge the details of their most personal and intimate relationship. Will they be open and vulnerable? Do they really have a great relationship? Will they have the words to convey their love in an impactful way?
In the moment that Jim and Cindy waved from across a busy street, it was clear that it would be a conversation to remember.
The thing that has really stayed with me since meeting this amazing couple is the feeling of gratitude and appreciation that radiated from both of them…but especially Jim.
Jim and Cindy met in college and became fast friends. After graduation, Jim moved to Boston and Cindy went overseas. She married, had a child and was living a full life. They maintained a casual relationship, but life took its course.
Decades later, Cindy’s husband passed away and she returned home to the states. Jim was in his 50s and still single, living a full life and working at Harvard University. Their paths crossed again at a class reunion. The chemistry of friendship was there, but it was accompanied by something else: love was blossoming. Over the following weeks and months, they turned their lives upside down to be together and, before long, Jim was married for the first time.
Since then, their lives have been transformed. Jim talks about how Cindy has made him an infinitely better man. Learning to share his life and provide for and love a fellow human being has changed him. In his words, “Marriage will break you. It will destroy you. That’s a good thing because it will then put you together in a way that is richer and deeper, and you will be more alive than you ever thought you could be.”
It was obvious how much the Wigdahls love and appreciate each other. The gratitude can be felt in the words they exchange.
There are many reasons that grateful couples are happy couples. Here are a few of them:
Gratitude Makes You Biologically Happy
Expressing appreciation and gratitude triggers the release of serotonin, which is an incredible chemical known as the “happy” chemical. Serotonin acts as a natural painkiller. It also dilates blood vessels and relaxes the heart. The peaceful, calming effects of serotonin essentially counteract many of the biological effects of stress, anxiety and sickness.
If you’re stressed (and who isn’t?), try practicing regular gratitude and appreciation for the people in your life. You’ll get a breather from all that crushing anxiety and it just feels good to make other people feel good.
Gratitude Inspires Others (Especially Men) to Be Awesome
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: most men do not enjoy being nagged. As a matter of fact, when we are told what to do or feel hassled, we tend to shut down and sometimes do the opposite of what we are asked.
Nagging and complaining really don’t bring out the best in anyone. But here’s the deal…gratitude is magical. Men are wired to provide and protect. There’s nothing we want more than to be your knight in shining armor, your hero or your prince charming. The best way to motivate us to step up to the plate and impress you with our sensitivity, thoughtfulness and hard work is to show us gratitude. A woman’s sincere gratitude can motivate and inspire a man to perform at his highest level.
Watch for opportunities to compliment your loved one on the behaviors you want to see more of. Start saying things like, “Wow, I love it when you flirt with me. It makes me feel like a goddess!” Or “It makes me so happy when you do the dishes, thank you so much. I’m so lucky I have a man like you.” Or “Babe, I loved that you got home so early today. I love spending time with you. Come here so I can kiss you.” Your man will start flirting more, treating you like a goddess, helping you around the house and coming home on time from work.
Make him feel like your white knight, and he’ll rise to the occasion. I promise.
Gratitude Reduces Worry
Anxiety is almost always caused by a loss of control. This loss of control induces fear and often makes us create a bunch of worst-case scenarios that end up crippling us with anxiety and worry.
The cool thing about gratitude is that it gets you out of your crazy headspace and into the present moment. When you’re focused on the present moment, you can’t also be focused on a catastrophic future. Practicing acts of gratitude will literally help to cure you of your most worry-prone moments.
Try it out! Next time you start getting anxious, pull out a piece of paper and a pen, and write a thank you note to the person you love most in the world.
Gratitude Makes Everything Better
Gratitude is the silver lining in the gray rain cloud of life. It makes the tough moments more bearable and the good moments absolutely unforgettable.
If you want a strong relationship, make sure to incorporate gratitude on a regular basis.
The stories I’ve gathered back up the science. Gratitude is literally the rocket fuel for love…and we can always be a little more appreciative of those we love.
What can you do to be more grateful today?