What does it take to be happy together? Finding someone with whom you can be yourself, share a common vision, and where there is a mutual respect and love is foundational. But once you’re in a relationship – and stress, busy schedules and the demands of life set in – it is important to be intentional about “prioritizing positivity,” which quite simply, is cultivating positive experiences and feelings in the relationship.

While you can find all sorts of advice about building lasting relationships, sometimes the best advice is the simplest. My former professor, Dr. James Pawelski, and my friend and former classmate, Suzann Pawelski, just released a new book, Happy Together: Using the science of positive psychology to build love that lasts. I want to share some of my favorite and most practical advice from it.

According to research, positive emotion not only helps us feel happier, but makes us healthier and more resilient, and in a relationship, it strengthens the bonds of love and connection. But just how do you do it? According to research the Pawelskis share in Happy Together, there are many pathways to positive emotion in a relationship. Here are seven. This week, I challenge you to notice how often you cultivate positive emotion in your relationships, and be intentional about cultivating it even more.


Find something that draws your interest together. Whether learning something new or exploring an intriguing topic, “interest” causes you to feel more open and alive.


Shared laughter is powerful in a relationship. Sharing funny stories or just being silly together brings you closer.


Looking towards tomorrow and imagining a better future can be inspiring. It can also feel vulnerable. In a relationship, it creates positive emotion that strengthens your bond.


Awe is pure amazement that inspires us and stops us in our tracks. Whether it is the greatness we see in a talent our partner possesses, or noticing a shooting star as you look up to the night sky, awe feels good.


Serenity occurs in the afterglow of other positive emotions. When you are in awe or just had a great laugh or an emotional high of some sort, you savor and bask in the feeling of being satisfied, content or at peace.


Noticing the good ways in which you have been blessed and showing appreciation to the one you love produces positive emotion. It produces even more when you reflect on why you are so grateful. Gratitude cultivates positive emotion in both the giver and the receiver.


When you do something together you can feel proud of, that pride boosts your positive emotion. Whether you paint a bedroom together or finally see your youngest child graduate from college, pride brings you closer. It says, “We did this.”