When you inspire yourself to improve, you try to make things just a little better — 1 percent will do to start. Thanks to the powerful human inspiration to improve, you don’t necessarily have to “fix” the problem to feel better. You just have to make it a little better. If you’re feeling bad and you think about what you can do to make it a little better — you don’t even have to do it, just think of it — you’ll start feeling better. If you’re upset at your partner, and you think of how you can make yourself feel a little better — shower, take a walk, smell a flower, call a friend, watch a game, chop some firewood, read a book — you’ll start to feel better. Making things a little better frees more mental resources in the neocortex, the problem-solving part of the brain. These added mental resources allow you to make things even better, freeing up more mental resources that enable you to improve yet a little more, and so on. Even if the improvement is only in your head, it will change your emotional demeanor and that will make negotiations with your partner go much better.
— Patricia Love and Steven Stosny, How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, p. 101
Photo: Wildeshausen, Germany, May 16, 2004