6 Simple Ways to Build Happy Families
My oldest daughter is leaving for college this month. As she prepares to leave, I have thought about how I want her to remember her time growing up with us. (Yes I know, I should have thought about that 18 years ago; and, I did begin thinking about it then. I guess the woman who said, “You’re a slow thinker” was right.) Anyway, I hope my daughter recalls our family as a family filled with happiness. I hope that in the process of growing up, we have taught her the skills needed to create happiness in her own life as well. Here are some ways that you can build a family environment of happiness as well…before your daughter gets ready to leave for college!
· Teach generosity. Generous people are happy people. To create a happy family, practice generosity. Practice generosity toward one another. Practice generosity toward those outside your family. Tip with generosity. Share with generosity. Model generosity.
· Encourage exercise. Research has shown over and over that exercise contributes to happiness. So, as a family, develop an active lifestyle. Go for walks together. Ride your bike. Hike. Walk to the store once in a while rather than taking the car all the time. Work out together. Play Ultimate Frisbee. Enjoy physical activity as a family.
· Teach to plan ahead. Anticipation builds excitement and happiness. Think about the excitement we experience as we anticipate the generous sharing of Christmas or the achievement of some goal we have worked toward. You can build this anticipation by involving the whole family in planning for various family celebrations such as holidays or birthdays. My kids love planning a surprise for their mother’s birthday or Mother’s Day; and, even a small surprise builds joy and happiness. Discover your children’s interests and help them set small achievable goals in those areas. Watch their excitement and happiness grow as they achieve these small steps.
· Listen to music. Enjoy music together. Sing, dance, and make music together. Or, join a choir as a family. Enjoy a concert. It is hard to be sad and unhappy for very long when you are enjoying music together. (Read this to learn more about the power of music for families)
· Build friendships. Develop friendships with people with whom you can share adventures. Not only can you experience the adventure with your friends, you can also recall the adventures with your friends. Recalling our shared adventures is almost as fun as the actual adventure…sometimes even more fun. Develop friendships as a family. Encourage your children to develop friendships as individuals.
· List three good things that happened. At the end of each day, tell your family about three good things that happened today. Listen as they tell you about three good things that happened to them. Studies have found that recalling the good events of each day can increase happiness and decrease depression.
Practicing the six activities above can help fill you family with joy and happiness. Your family will be a place filled with happiness, a place your children will remember as happy. As your children start families of their own, your home can remain a place of happiness, a place your grandchildren will want to visit because of the happiness that fills every corridor…and that will definitely increase your happiness!