This is the one ratio that matters when it comes to YOUR happiness


If you’re married or in a long term relationship, you get me when I say it takes work to keep a relationship strong, right? Don’t get me wrong, the work is worth it and pays off, but you gotta work at it.

Alright, so if you’re with me on that, I’m going to take a leap and talk about a different relationship that you may be neglecting…the relationship with yourself.

Yep, you hear me talk about it all the time but that’s ‘cause it’s important. You need a BETTER relationship with that voice in your head. I’m going to ask you today to think about it like a partner/spouse/sweet love.

Alright, you with me here? I give props to John Gottmann, the much acclaimed therapist who is known internationally for his research and work with couples. In fact, he’s got a magic relationship ratio you should check out if you’re trying to save your marriage. (Ok, but do that later ‘cause we’re going to focus on this internal marriage first!)

So, I’m going to tell you how that magic ratio can work right here and now with YOU.

Let’s break down the ratio first in simple, quick terms. He’s figured out that every couple who has conflict (which is all of them, let’s get real) has more success at staying together and being happier if for every one negative interaction, there are five positive ones.

Ok, let’s put that in real language. For every time you are critical or dismissive of your partner’s emotions…

Cue the conversation: “Why can’t you ever learn how to do this right?” or as simply passive aggressive as “You forgot to take the garbage out AGAIN…”

There need to be FIVE positive interactions which go under the category of something like:

  • Being interested and curious about what they’re saying

  • Expressing affection

  • Showing intentional appreciation

So, that’s the magic math ratio: 5 to 1. Simple, right?

What if I tell you that this magic ratio can work with yourself?

You can basically re-read what I just wrote with yourself in mind but let me show you:

Cue the internal conversation: For every time you say…”Why can’t I ever do this right?” or “I screwed up AGAIN” you need to have five positive interactions. Which could include something like:

  • Being interested and curious about what you’re saying

    • Translation: When you hear yourself expressing something self-critical or having an emotion you don’t want to have…getting curious and non-judgmental and thinking instead, “I wonder where that anger is coming from” or “What I’m hearing doesn’t sound helpful, I wonder if I can reframe this”

    • This, my friend, is mindfulness in action…

  • Expressing affection

    • Translation: Sending yourself love when you’re hearing a mean or unhelpful voice either through saying intentionally “I send myself love during this difficult time” or just taking some long deep breaths and sending them as nurturing gestures to your heart

    • This, my friend, is self-compassion in action…

  • Showing intentional appreciation

    • Translation: Come on, I don’t even have to tell you what this means…Expressing gratitude for anything in your life or about yourself to let the beauty accompany the difficulty

    • This, my friend, is gratitude practice in action…

You getting where I’m going with this?

This is the work, the practice, of accepting and loving yourself that makes the MOST IMPORTANT relationship in your life work!

Every time you hear a negative voice, counter it with 5 positive actions.

When I’m aware there is negativity in my mind, I’ve started a rule of not continuing that conversation until I’ve done 5 positive actions to match it.

So it can look something like this:

  • I don’t exercise one day like I had planned to and I hear “You messed up, why couldn’t you have just stayed on your plan?”

  • So, stop that conversation and counter it with 5 things that could look something like this…

    • Hand on my heart and send breath there

    • At the same time I think, “You are only human, Tanmeet”

    • Think of something I’m grateful for in that moment like “I’m glad I am committing to exercise” or “I’m fortunate to have a body that can think of doing this”

    • Getting curious: “I wonder where this criticism is coming from” and I may not see it right then but I’ve shifted the nature of the conversation already

    • Express gratitude for being here, right now

So hear me out here in true Dr Gottman style, you need to find your magic in this relationship.



Five to One

More positive than negative

The ratio is the magic

The relationship between you and your inner voice matters

Get the ratio right and you’ll feel the magic, every darn day.

Try it out and tell me how it goes. I want to hear all about YOUR magic.

Live well,

Tanmeet SethiComment