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Judith Orloff MD Headshot

The 4 Laws of Good Relationships

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GOOD RELATIONSHIP LAWS
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Are you longing for relationships that do your heart good and generate stronger connections? In my book "Positive Energy" I discuss how to radically improve your health and relationships by bringing positive people and situations into your life. Knowing about energy can transform your ability to build positive relationships, prevent loneliness and ward off fatigue. By making the energetic shifts described here, you can draw good things to you.

Law No. 1: We attract who we are.

The more positive energy we give off, the more we'll receive. Ditto for negativity. It works like this: Love attracts love. Grumpiness attracts grumpiness. Passion attracts passion. Rage attracts rage.

First, define what being positive does and doesn't mean for you in terms of attitude and behavior. Don't worry if you're far from a positive place. It's an evolution. Give thought to what you value most in yourself or others. You can then strengthen these traits in yourself and attract the same.

The idea is to find reciprocally nourishing interactions, not to win a popularity contest. (Of course, it feels good to be liked. But I've seen this need turn into addiction.)

The following exercise will help you boost your positive signals:

  • Identify your best qualities and project them to the world. Before meeting new people or going to important events, prime yourself. Think, "I'm not going to focus on my insecurity but on a strength, like my sensitivity, compassion or humor; I'm going to feel and trust the positive energy inside me. I'm going to claim my full power." Such selective attention puts your best parts front and center.

Law No. 2: Intuition clarifies smart choices.

Relationships are tricky; they can be a big blur even when your eyes are open. We've learned to draw conclusions from surface data: how nice someone seems, looks or is educated, or how a situation adds up on paper. But attraction goes deeper. To make it work for you, other ingredients must be considered. Respect your intuitions about relationships and identify those that highlight compatible matches.

What may obscure the picture is anxiety or intense sexual attraction. If so, go slow until you get a keener intuitive read.

The following exercises help train you to act from instinct, not impulse:

  • Tune in. Choose a relationship or situation that needs clarification -- perhaps you're confused about a friendship or vacation. Run it by your intuition criteria: Do you feel troubled and nervous or energized and safe?
  • Act on vibes. Insecurity, ego, lust or stubbornness can obscure your better judgment. If a person feels positive, explore the possibilities. If the vibes are mixed, take a pass or at least wait. If all you sense is negative, have the courage to walk away, no matter how tempting the option seems. Then, observe how listening to energy in this way leads you to the juiciest opportunities.

Law No. 3: Seeing the best in people magnetizes them.

Instead of reflexively accentuating the worst in a person or situation, choose to energize positive qualities. The object isn't to flatter, make nice, be politically correct or ignore intuitive red flags -- nor to deny someone's dark side or placate abusers. Your goal is to mine the gold in positive relationships and elevate the communication in more difficult ones.

We want to have the goodness in us acknowledged. If you want to connect with someone, notice his or her assets. Let's say a co-worker is snitty. Realize that happy people don't act this way. So instead of being snitty back or constantly miffed, redirect the energy. Comment on the long hours she puts in, or her dynamite shoes. Use this approach for a week -- as well as the ones below - and watch the vibes change.

  • Tell at least two people you love what you're grateful for about them.
  • Tell at least two people you don't love what you're grateful for about them.
  • Adjust your perception. Spend an afternoon noticing the positive qualities of everyone you meet.
  • Praise other people's abilities.

Law No. 4: Soulful giving generates abundance.

Giving is supposed to feel good; if not, something's wrong. Soulful giving enlarges your capacity to be more caring -- you give for the joy of it, expecting nothing in return. In contrast, codependent giving bleeds life force -- it's driven by obligation, guilt or a martyr-complex, and it leaves the giver feeling sucked dry, unappreciated and put upon.

You want to give for reasons that energize you, not because you're taking inappropriate responsibility for others. The following strategies will generate bountiful vibes for you and the receiver. If you give from your heart, your vitality will soar.

  • Give spontaneously. Any time is right to offer simple tokens of appreciation to friends or colleagues: a candle, rose, small plant, fragrant soap or funny card.
  • Give anonymously. Walk an old lady across the street, hold open an elevator, let a car go before you in traffic or do something nice behind the scenes for someone, but don't get found out. Such good deeds add light to your energy field and ultimately draw the same goodness back to you. As a 14-year-old friend told me, "The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer up someone else."

Use these "laws" to mobilize excellence and kindness in your relationships. Emphatically say "no" to anything that doesn't further the heart. Cheer each success. Don't cheat your joy by jumping too quickly to the next ambition. Instead, pledge to value even the tiniest of triumphs. That's what the art of positive living is about.

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