Happy Families Smell

I don’t mean “smell” as an adjective. Maybe I should finish the title…“Happy Families Stop to Smell the Roses.” Yeah, that would be better but…too late. Anyway, if you want to come home to a happy family, teach your spouse and kids to slow down. Teach them to appreciate the world around them. Show them how to pay attention to the moment, to stop and smell…the roses. If we do not practice appreciating the world around us, and teach our family to do the same, we will likely get caught up in the busy-ness of life and miss the joy Couple cook by bonfire romantic night countrysideof sharing the moment together. We will find ourselves worried about the next activity or fretting about what we did last week and, in the process, miss the opportunity to enjoy time together right now. We will miss the joy of slowing down and smelling the roses. When you and your family learn to enjoy the moment, on the other hand, you will experience greater happiness and enjoy many eternal moments of joy.  Here are three tips to help your family appreciate the world around them.

  • Be intentional. Put aside worries about what’s coming up and forget the past for the moment and intentionally focus on the “here and now.” Rather than talk about what happened today in the news (although an interesting topic for another time) or your plans for vacation next month (another interesting topic for another time), talk about your experience of the here and now. Use all your senses. Talk to each other and share the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and sensations of your current experience. For instance, walking through the monkey house at the zoo offers a plethora of sights, sounds, smells, and physical sensations that easily become part of the conversation. Eating your dinner also presents colors, tastes, aromas, and oral sensations (crunchy, chewy, slimy, soft, etc.) to share with one another. You can still talk about the past and future, but save it for another time. Intentionally take 15 minutes each day to focus on your experience of the here and now.
  • Accept one another’s experience as well as your own. Realize that not everyone will experience the zoo the same way you do. We all have slightly different experiences of the world around us. Rather than judge your experience or your family’s experience, accept each person’s experience as unique and learn from it. You might try to discover the experience they describe. Or, you might simply enjoy your differences and appreciate the opportunity to learn more about the other person. I have a friend who describes the smell of skunk as being like french fries. As hard as I try, I cannot find that same experience; but, in accepting his experience I have come to appreciate his awareness and wisdom of the outdoors. Whether you experience an event in the same way as your spouse and kids or not, do not judge the experience. Simple accept and enjoy…together.
  • Choose one or two activities you might experience and appreciate as a family each day. You might choose appreciating the sensations of a walk in the woods, eating a meal, enjoying an outing, listening to music, or any number of other activities. Use your imagination and create moments of slowing down to appreciate the world around you.

Appreciating the world around you will also increase your sense of awe. As you experience the moment with your family you will discover amazing things—sights, sounds, tastes, and smells. You will stand in awe of the complexities and intricacies of world. And, promoting this sense of awe in your family carries its own benefits, such as greater patience! (Read more about the benefit of awe in Using the Power of Awe in Your Family.)  So, slow down and smell the roses to increase the happiness in your family! By the way, you can learn more about appreciating the world to increase happiness at Actions for Happiness.

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