There are three important reasons to look for the positive in your partner. First, how you treat other people becomes who you are. Would you rather be understanding, supportive, appreciative and optimistic, or critical, stern, mean-spirited, and nit-picking? When you push yourself to act respectfully and overlook unimportant flaws, you will feel much better about yourself.
Second, how you judge others affects the way they behave and view themselves. When you point out how sloppy and clumsy another person is, those traits will become magnified. If, instead, you focus on their good qualities, they will tend to reflect those qualities.
Third, constant criticism will wreck a relationship and make you both miserable.
If you tend to be critical, you have to purposely develop the habit of appreciating the good in others. The neuro-plasticity of our brains allows us to change, but it requires a lot of practice. Every time you think, “What a slob,” you must force yourself to think and even express a different thought about the person, such as, “You are always there for me and the kids.” After 2000 or so thought switches, it becomes almost natural to change that particular thought. It also becomes easier to see the good in people around you, because they will thrive in an environment of appreciation.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD