A Daily Appreciation Practice: Creating a Healthy Brain

A woman holding flowers and hugging a manIf you are looking for ways to create a deeper connection and better overall communication with your partner, here is a powerful technique that takes only minutes each day.

The Imago Appreciation Practice is a simple daily practice that has a positive impact on the brain and therefore adds profound value to your relationship. It’s easy to learn and incorporate into your daily life too!

Imago Daily Appreciation Tips: 

You’ll only need to take a few moments each day to think of three things you appreciate about your partner. These three things can be anything you value. Ideally, you’ll include items you’ve taken for granted or do not mention often. You can consider and include:

  1. Acts of service/kind deeds/chores
  2. Physical characteristics
  3. Personality traits

Keeping in mind, these are not items you typically say “thank you” for, like “I appreciate you handing me that fork.” No. This is in addition to your daily good manners of “please” and “thank you.” 

The idea is that you create a sacred time together each day, sit face-to-face (in person if possible) to share and connect. And both people in the couple do this.

This is an Example of how it can Look with your Partner: 

Communication Example for SENDER to RECEIVER:  
  • “I appreciate that you washed the dishes last night when I was so exhausted.” Mirror/i.e. repeat.
  • “I appreciate how kind you are in the morning when I am cranky.” Mirror/i.e. repeat.
  • “I appreciate how you stay lean and strong by working out (or how you stay so sexy).” Mirror/i.e. repeat.
Switch Roles and RECEIVER becomes SENDER:
  • “I appreciate how you make sure I have clean clothes for work.” Mirror/i.e. repeat. 
  • “I appreciate that crinkle on your nose when you smile.” Mirror/i.e. repeat.
  • “I appreciate how you make me laugh and lighten the mood in stressful times.” Mirror/i.e. repeat. 
How to Set up the Imago Process of Receiver and Sender: 
  • Choose a time of day where both of you are available.
  • Choose a spot where you can sit face-to-face. Holding hands is ideal.
  • Both partners Send and Receive. When you are finished, say “thank you for sharing that with me” with a smile, have a lingering hug and/or a kiss and then go on with your day. 
  • Take turns each day with who goes first so it feels balanced.

A couple kissing under a night sky

How to Practice Rewarding Daily Appreciations for Both Partners:
  • Do this no matter how you feel. Be sure to do this appreciation practice every single day. Push past any resistance or anger. It can and will boost your mood and bring you closer if you allow yourself to do it.
  • No discussion or commenting is allowed on what is shared. Simply “Mirror” or repeat what you hear, accept the Appreciations as sincere, and receive them as gifts. 
  • Criticism is discouraging for anyone and creates the opposite of what we intend with this exercise. So if you get triggered, or bothered, by something your partner says, put it aside and talk about it later in a calm way or bring it to a therapy session. 
  • Keep in mind your differing brain styles and speeds. One partner may be a quick thinker, and one may need to ponder for many minutes, or cannot think first thing in the morning or at bedtime. It works well if we can learn to honor these differences and work together to create a successful practice. 
  • Avoid attaching a negative story, such as “s/he must not really love me if it is that difficult to think of something to appreciate about me.” 
  • The eyes, face, and voice are essential factors with healthy couplehood attachment, so do appreciations in person as much as possible.
  • If you cannot be together, share over Telephone, Facetime, and yes even over Text or email if necessary.
How will Daily Appreciations Create a Healthy Brain? 

Since the brain is wired for survival, we naturally see everything that is wrong with situations and people, especially our partner. So, we need to “flip our thinking around” to search for what is right versus what is wrong in our lives and our relationships. Doing this one mindful swap will help us stay focused on our health and happiness, and it may even help us feel more caring about our partner’s health and happiness. 

Over time, this practice becomes a part of you and your brain and a part of your relationship. It is like a Gratitude Practice for a couple.

  • It fosters happiness, contentment, connection, and good feelings. 
  • You get to know your partner better. They get to know you.
  • Each person gets “equal airtime,” so it balances out the energies. Even the quiet partner talks! That lessens anxiety and increases safety.

It may feel awkward at first, and as with anything new, it will take effort. After 16 years of daily appreciation, I notice if I have not done appreciations, my brain feels like something is missing. It’s like if you notice something feels off, and then you realize, “Oh yeah! I forgot to brush my teeth! I had better do that.”

A daily appreciation practice with your beloved can become as natural and beneficial as brushing your teeth. It will most definitely help your relationship by creating a deeper connection, increased verbal communication, greater happiness and relationship satisfaction, and help cultivate a lasting love. Imagine, all of that from a just a few minutes each day!

By Stacy Bremner, MA, RP