The Love Thought Experiment

July 25, 2011 | 43 Comments »

Sending Love ThoughtsWe regularly hear how transformative it is to focus on the best in another.

To notice what we appreciate most, to get deliberate in seeing nice qualities – that’s reportedly extremely effective in changing the nature of an otherwise contentious relationship.

I believe it’s true, but wanted to get some recent research on the process.

What do you say we experiment with it together?

We think of someone we normally have mixed feelings about (for many of us that may be someone under our own roof) and then just take a few minutes to dwell on all the best parts of them.  Even if we have to make some of those parts up.

You game?

Then I say we check back here in a week and report what, if anything, has changed in that relationship.

I’m actually going to post my good thoughts & nice observations in the comments, so they’re easier to remember if I find myself doing the “mixed” version again.

Feel free to share yours, too, if you like.  Anonymously if that works better.

And we’ll check back after several days and see if anything’s different. 

Thanks in advance for playing!

This is actually the process I ask clients who’ve hired me for relationship work to practice as we end our coaching, to ensure they keep things on the good track they created!

Again, our experiment is simple:

  1. think of someone you’d like to have a more harmonious relationship with (kids, spouses, bosses, parents, roommates, etc.)
  2. entertain positive thoughts about this person, reflecting on their best qualities and what you love most about them (even if you have to make it up).  Repeat the process if you feel inspired over the next couple days.
  3. report back after several days to document any changes in the relationship

Most importantly, have fun!  🙂

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43 Responses to “ The Love Thought Experiment ”

  1. Lisa says:

    Great idea, I’m in! Thanks for the inspiration Jeannette.

  2. Anna says:

    I’m in, Baby! My landlady and I shall only benefit!

  3. Ha!! Anna, you crack me up. lol

    And I get it!

    All right – I’ve got good company in this already. Thanks, ladies!!

  4. Nat Couropmitree says:

    I’m in too.

    By the way, I recently did something similar and got an instant shift.

    I had just heard from my insurance company that they decided I was at fault in a recent car accident. I couldn’t believe it. I just didn’t understand how they came to this result. My mind kept going around in circles, replaying the accident, thinking about how incompetent I thought they were… it all kept on swimming around in my head, making me feel more and more frustrated. I knew I had to get out of this funk, so I started finding things I could be grateful for about this situation. Then I decided to embrace and love the insurance company, the people that were working on this case, and the woman that drove her car into mine. I understood that I should not take this personally. They were not doing anything to me. I would just love them for who they are. Literally minutes later, I got a call from my insurance rep telling me that after reviewing the information, I was 100% NOT at fault! I thanked her. After I got off the phone, I yelled out with excitement re: the change in result and was laughing to myself. 🙂

  5. TheDatingDr says:

    Wonderful idea! Here’s to happier relating starting now! You can even try with pets! 😉

  6. Nat?! That’s AMAZING!! And still not surprising at the same time. Because I get how this works.

    But how COOL! To be able to practice it at that challenging time, and to get such immediate shifts from it!

    woo hoo!

    And good idea, DatingDr – I hadn’t thought of doing this experiment with animals, too!

  7. Nat Couropmitree says:

    Hey, just had the thought that we can choose to improve the relationship with ourselves too through this experiment

  8. Now that you mention that, Nat, that does seem exactly what we’re doing here, huh? Just using our contrast with the other person as an excuse/catalyst to get closer to our TRUE selves. Who always sees the best in everyone else.

    Hmmm.

  9. Elisabeth says:

    I AM in! I have the perfect person in mind! Is it just one person? =)

  10. Calicon says:

    Me too! The timing is perfect for me to participate in this, with my son as the person I am sending love thoughts to. This is way more exciting to do as a co-creative group and hear about the results. Thank for putting this out here Jeanette…

  11. Elisabeth, you’re making me laugh, too! And Calicon, I totally agree – doing this together makes it … I don’t know if it’s more powerful or more fun – but either one leads to the other, so I guess it’s both!
    🙂
    YAY!!

  12. Sherry says:

    I know from personal experience that this process is also effective in making peace with a relationship even when the person has passed on.

  13. Wow, Sherry. I just read your email confirming exactly what you posted here.

    WOW.

    You are amazing. Thanks for posting here!

  14. Brigitte says:

    Okay, I’m in!
    My brother. Our relationship is already fairly good, but I want it better.

    I expect great manifestations out of this!

  15. Amanda42 says:

    I’ll play! I’ve already been doing this for about a week, actually. While I haven’t noticed any direct changes in the relationship, the way I feel has definitely improved, and that is just as important! I think I’m going to expand on this experiment and start appreciating another person – myself. I could stand to treat myself a bit better, so I pick me!

  16. Yay Brigitte & Amanda! You’re inspiring me to get serious about this! Here I go …

    Okay, so I’m officially posting that the target of my love thought experiment is my sweetheart, whom I will rant about just a bit here, for the record:

    he is a guy who has learned how to say “I’m sorry; I was wrong; you were right” even when he doesn’t necessarily really think so. lol He knows how to give his defensive ego the back seat. Gotta love that about a guy. Or girl. that’s a nice quality!

    he cooks!! and he cooks again and again and he never gets tired or complaining about it!

    he is good to my dogs. And cats. So much so that I can’t even call them “mine” and I love that. He doesn’t do it just to score points with me, either. He’s good to them regardless. That’s a highly prized trait in my world.

    He keeps a spotless car, and he would keep a spotless house if he didn’t drive me nuts with all the damn cleaning. He definitely does more than his share of cleaning.

    He keeps thinking he knows a weed from an intended plant, no matter how many times I tell him he’s removed from weed-pulling privileges. Gotta love his confidence in his discernment.

    He is a guy who has his money act together. That’s an especially rare treat for me in my dating history. lol

    His mind works pretty well. He’s the kind of smart that I’m not, so we make a great team.

    He never once ever made me think he was interested in another girl. I guess that goes to his “smart” quality. lol

    He’s learning when to let me rant and rave, and when not to. That can be dangerous ground, but he’s not afraid. Well, he probably is, but he does it anyway. I like that about him.

    He plays a mean round of golf and he doesn’t let me pressure him into voting and he has good taste in movies. And houses. And girlfriends.
    🙂

  17. Lisa says:

    You know Jeannette, I was just thinking that this approach to relationships is very much along the same lines of what I shared last week on my blog about the book, Anatomy of Peace. It’s an experiment to resolve conflict before it happens in our mind, to soften your stance and choose what we focus on about the other person in a ligther, more fun and deliberate creator’s sort of way. Gotta love it — you are so clever! 🙂

  18. Share a link with us all, please, Lisa!!

  19. Nicely done, Janette! I could feel the love there.

    Thanks for joining in the experiment! 🙂

  20. Natalie Currie says:

    Now that sounds like super-fuel to me!

  21. Janette says:

    I love this!! (And LOL Elisabeth – I had the same thought…. “only one person?????”)

    OK, I have the perfect person in mind…. somebody with whom I’ve had complicated and confusing communications. I will see her again in a fortnight for a catch up meeting. Here I go with my appreciation of “MT”.

    I LOVE how MT cares so much about her work, and how she takes a strong personal approach to all her clients. I love that she’s willing to support me, and to let ME make the decision about how that support will come about. I love that she doesn’t call me every three minutes to check up on me, but is content to let me self-manage my part of our activities. I love that she has intimate personal knowledge of the course I’ve just finished because she did it herself recently, so I don’t have to explain things to her. I love that after our meeting today I had a clear list of things to do; and that I can get them done any time over the next fortnight.

    Thanks Jeannette, can’t wait to keep practising this on my own. Not just in the hopes of a better relationship, but because – yes – it feels good already!!!

  22. Jessica Earl says:

    I’m in! My first thought was my daughter. And then as I read comments, I thought of a bunch of others. So… I will see what unfolds! For me, I need to focus on the qualities I love sincerely, not made up ones, because when I try to do that, my vibration turns to doubt. So I stick with what I “believe”.

    I recall a time when my daughter was young (5 or 6 perhaps) and she was having one of the worst meltdowns in history. She was in her bedroom, but her screaming and temper could be heard anywhere in the house. I was so upset because no matter what I did to help her calm down, it didn’t work. It got to the point that I was going to have a meltdown too! So I grabbed the dry-erase marker and began writing all that I loved about her on the whiteboard. It was difficult at first. In that moment, I had maybe one adjective… then 30 seconds of thinking, another. Slowly, I gained momentum and I couldn’t write as fast as my appreciation of her. Even though her screaming was piercing to the ears/nerves, soon I was lost in my own bubble of love for her!! It was amazing how transformative it was because I knew I could be happy and loving no matter how difficult the moment seemed. As I was running out of room on the whiteboard, I realized she had stopped crying. She calmly as ever came out and apologized to me and told me how much she loved me! Then she saw the whiteboard, and felt so good about her self and that I felt that way! We left it on there for a long time. Each time she would pass by it, she would get a huge shot of love! I think it was magical! <3

    So now I need to do this again, teenage style! 🙂

  23. I went the same route, Jessica – with the real already present and easy to love qualities.

    And I have heard similar amazingly immediate transformations from screaming toddlers when parents have the presence of mind to use this technique!

    Loved your story – thanks for sharing it here. 🙂

  24. Kim Falconer says:

    I’m in!

    I am thinking of a person….She is a treasure.

    I love the way she listens and allows.

    I love the way she respects herself and her family.

    I love the way we connect.

    Life is beautiful with her in it!

    I’m celebrating that!

  25. I’m celebrating it with you, girlfriend! 🙂

    Thanks for bringing your fab energy to the thought experiment!

  26. Lisa says:

    Thanks Jeannette! Here’s the link to for the blogpost on additional strategies to getting to a Heart of Peace and resolving conflict: http://renaissancelearner.com/how-to-gain-peace-of-mind-live-conflict-free

    I’m already seeing progress in my relationship with this little experiment — a softer, loving side which just makes my heart glow 🙂

  27. Anna says:

    Jessica – how lovingly brilliant! Intuitive, open, generous and *in touch with your child!* Absolutely the kind of thing that makes the difference *every single time, no matter what!*

    I’ve had similar experiences with my son (gifted with autism, I proudly tell). In the worst times (explosion more befitting than meltdown) I hold him (grab tackle hold close & tight), tell him I love him (even if I have to yell) and *how* (like you and your whiteboard) – and *that* is what calms, soothes, helps him let go the explosion of frustration (frustrosion? explotration?). It works for both of us.

    Love. Always love. Reminds me of a Ziggy cartoon on one of my school binders…

    “Love is the answer. What was the question?”

    Doesn’t matter…

  28. Helen says:

    Jeannette,
    LOVE this! I do it from time to time and it works! Thanks for the reminder.
    Thanks to Nat for the comment about doing it to improve our relationship with ourselves.
    For the next week I choose to focus on my relationship with myself because I know it sets the tone for all my other relationships!

  29. Nat Couropmitree says:

    You’re welcome Helen! We often have mixed feelings about ourselves. Just imagine how we’ll feel and eventually allow into our lives when we focus on the best in us and make up new empowering stories about who we are 🙂

    So I’ve also chosen to improve my relationship with myself.

  30. Parul Bhargava says:

    I am in too…

  31. Dana - Your Inspired Coach says:

    I’ve used this in my own life and have also taught clients this technique in relationship coaching and it’s literally saved marriages in my experience.

  32. Tammy says:

    My love thought intended is smart and funny. Has a beautiful smile and makes me laugh. He is generous and respectful. He loves me completely and is always kind. He plays hard and works less hard, his life has such perfect balance I aim to have that as well.

    I love him and cherish our relationship, he does as well.

  33. Thank you, Lisa. You’re right – sounds very relevant!

    Parul, I’m already smiling as I imagine the story you report back as a result of this experiment!

    Dana, how cool is it that a divorce attorney shares this with her clients?!

    Update from my experiment: (oh boy, I got goosebumps just THINKING about what’s transpired over here) …

    My sweetie has been ridiculously cooperative and attentive and considerate and sweet and funny. He already had some of those traits, so it’s not like a dramatic turnaround – but it’s like everything that I’m getting from him is POSITIVE. It’s only been a few days, so it’s not totally weird, but if it kept up, that would be a little … fairytaleish. Like, “is this REAL?” But I’ve been working with relationship coach Lisa Hayes to start believing in happily ever afters in real romantic life, so … I guess it’s all coming together. lol

    Seriously, though, there are probably a variety of factors that could be contributing to this positive change, but whatever got it started, I know I can help perpetuate it by maintaining a strong focus on what I love and adore about him. So it’s full steam ahead for me!

    I wanted to suggest, too, as this may come up for some of us sooner or later – when you find yourself with a negative thought about the target of your love thought experiment, use that as a trigger to redirect back to your positive thought(s).
    🙂

  34. PS – nicely done, Tammy!!

  35. Annette says:

    Jeannette, Russ is super-smart when it comes to girlfriends . . .

    And me too: only ONE?? poo

    But here goes:
    I like the fact that my roommate is so absorbed in what he’s doing NOW that he overlooks what others might call obvious.
    I like it that I get to hear some fantastic live music – as it’s being created, even.
    I like that I am reminded how unique I am every day because he does NOT think the way I do.
    I like how I am shown that we can all share the earth and no one has to be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, or ‘better’ – as evidenced by the fact that the world is still turning and intact.

  36. Lois says:

    I have several people that I want to use for this experiment. But I have chosen my son as the first person.

    My son is dependable. When he borrows money from me, I know that he will pay me back when he says that he will, because he keeps his word.

    He is always doing thoughtful things for me…like washing my car, changing my oil.

    He is a very sensitive and loving person. Not only does he show love to me, but also to his girlfriend who is pregnant with their frist child. He is so kind to all of the people in his life.

    He is so good with babies and little children. I know that he is going to be a wonderful father.

    He is communicative and trustworthy. I love that I can always count on him.

    He treats his brothers and sisters with respect. He enjoys helping people.

  37. Lisa says:

    I’m reporting back in after a week with experimenting. I really liked what Jessica Earl suggested about writing a list of adjectives that embody my subject and it worked awesome! I spent time each day adding to my list and I have to say I feel more connected and supported than ever. Thanks Jessica for the idea and to you Jeannette for taking the lead with this experiment.

  38. Jessica says:

    Ok people, I really want to share this video with you, it is about how this girl was recieving hate from someone, then she visualized sending her love, and well, just watch to see what happens!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anxGW97XzH4

  39. Nat Couropmitree says:

    Jessica, thanks for sharing that video. So perfect for what we’re doing here. Plus the girl speaking was a cutie 🙂

  40. Anonymous says:

    I’m late on this but hey…any week’s a good week to start right?!

    For this experiment I’m chosing my S.O.

    He’s is becoming more in touch with his emotions and a more affectionate person all around.

    He is very thoughtful and patient.

    He finds new and creative ways to show just how much I mean to him and that he cares. No way is too big or too small or too silly or too fun.

    He wants to be more involved in my family’s life and is outgoing and spontaneous.

    Our communication style is in perfect balance with one another and we are both learning to LISTEN more and appreciate the GOOD qualties the other person is bringing to this relationship.

    He is positive and is learning to share his feelings with me.

    Add this stuff on top of him already being a very smart and funny guy.
    A wonderful, caring, supportive father who has a great realtionship with his mother.

    So I KNOW he’s capable being patient and supportive…I’ve seen it in his interaction with other family members.

    Thats about it for now. I’ll continue to try this out and report back in a week.

  41. Kim Falconer says:

    This has been a profound thought experiment. 17 days ago I said:

    I am thinking of a person….She is a treasure.

    I love the way she listens and allows.

    I love the way she respects herself and her family.

    I love the way we connect.

    Life is beautiful with her in it!

    I’m celebrating that!

    I have seen this person four times in the last 17 days and each time she has been exactly as I proclaimed. It’s the most remarkable change. I am in awe of what’s happening here!

    Thank you, Jeannette!

    MWAHS

  42. Amanda42 says:

    This experiment has been amazing. Since I’ve started doing this around one person, every interaction we’ve had has been positive. And even if we hadn’t had any interactions, it would still be a success because it makes me feel better either way. Appreciating the people in our lives is a phenomenal vibe-raiser!

  43. Miss L says:

    mhhh, I am thinking of a special friend
    and i LOVE HIM because:
    *He is an amazing friend,Boyfriend and a father
    *He is Loving,understanding and Caring
    *He brings out the best out of me
    *He Respects me, is honnest, faithful,open and shares his feelings,confess his LOVE for Me.
    *I love him because he is so Cool, Calm,Soft and Peaceful.
    *He adores me,loves me deeply and wants to spend the rest of his life with me
    *He loves to spend time with me,innitiates VISITS,CHATS,Constantly Calls me I am always on his mind, to him i am the best thing ever.
    *He is suggesting a trip with me right after his trip this early MARCH.
    *He is so captivated by my love
    *He is committed to our relationship
    *He is Healthy, Wealthy
    *We have everything in common
    *We are both healthy and are travelling the world
    *We are succesful and he supports my dreams
    *I love that He love my family, my family loves him,I love his family and his family adores me.
    * I Adore this guy because he is my MAN, the Love of my life.

    I am Celebrating, thanking my Soul,HIM,GOD and the UNIVERSE!!!

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