Monthly archives: January, 2015

HOW TO HAVE A HAPPIER FAMILY

10137351_sThe way to build a happy family is to help kids develop that intergenerational sense of self, and the way to do that is, in part, to build family time and rituals where you can construct narratives about your family.

It turns out that a large part of constructing a happy family is about creating a particular type of narrative about our family history, one that demonstrates that members of our family have been through both good and bad times together, but through it all we’ve stuck together. Kids who know a lot about their family history—the parts that they didn’t experience themselves, but that were passed down to them through stories—feel that they are a part of something much larger than themselves.

When we give kids this sense of being part of something bigger than just themselves, they reap enormous emotional benefits. These benefits include:

  • a greater sense of control over their lives;
  • better family functioning;
  • greater family cohesiveness;
  • lower levels of anxiety;
  • higher self-esteem;
  • fewer behavior problems.

 

It’s not the knowledge of your family history that provides all those benefits in and of itself; the way to build a happy family is not necessarily to start giving kids family history lessons.

Most kids come to know their family history at times like dinner, or on vacation, or through holiday traditions—and that research shows that these same situations and experiences occur more frequently in cohesive families.

All of these things together—family dinners and vacations and all the talking and playing that occurs because of them—help kids develop an intergenerational sense of self. Kids experience themselves as a part of something larger, and that sense gives them “the personal strength and moral guidance…associated with increased resilience, better adjustment, and improved chances of good clinical and educational outcomes.”



TEN TIPS TO BEING HAPPIER

22756692_sHere are ten tips from a great book by Gretchen Rubin- The Happiness project on how to become a happier person. She researched everything from Plato to pop-culture as it related to her mission. Each month she sets new goal relating to a different area of her life and chronicled her successes and failures with research and a bit of humor. The result is an uplifting read full of ideas to help each one of us on our journey to a more smile-filled life.

Here are ten points from the book to get you started:

1. Give Positive Reviews

For some strange reason Gretchen admits that being critical made her feel “more sophisticated and intelligent” She sites a study where people judged writers of negative book reviews as more competent than the writers of positive reviews, even though both were of equal high quality. Give positive reviews reminds us to be humble and look to give credit where credit is do. This results in feeling good for the right reasons not because we’ve successfully torn someone or something apart.

2. Don’t Expect Praise

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, “When one loves, one does not calculate.” Do things for others because it’s the right thing to do not because you want something in return be it tangible or otherwise. This “no calculation” rule fosters love and generosity and will make your world a better place.

3. Make Your Resolutions Measurable

Sounds complicated but it’s really not. Resolutions are easier if they are concrete, not abstract. Instead of saying you want to be healthier (abstract) set a measurable goal to exercise 30 minutes a day or something else specific that will allow you to track your progress and see where you’re at.

4. Act the Way you Want to Feel

We often feel because of the way we act not the other way around. Acting a certain way you can create the emotion in yourself. In other words we take back the power to control how we feel. If you have an unpleasant feeling act the way you wish you felt and pretty soon that’s exactly how you’ll be feeling.

5. Enjoy the Fun of Failure

No one likes to fail that’s for sure, but failure is a necessary part of creativity, risk-taking and aiming high. Enjoying the fun of it helps one to be more lighthearted when it comes to taking risks. Embrace failure and know that it means you’re on the path to new skills, new experiences, growth and a large dose of happiness.

6. Spend Out

Rather than “saving” things trusting in abundance. Bought a new piece of clothing? Wear it and enjoy. Own some fine china? Why wait for the Queen to come for tea when you can use it and make yourself and those around you feel special. Enjoy the good things you have now – it’s OKAY!

7. Let it Go

The tendency to obsess about mistakes and then boring everyone with endless explanations, justifications and excuses, letting it go means to stop doing this. Most things don’t matter very much in the long run so why beat ourselves up about it today?

8. Be Polite and Be Fair

Henri-Frederic put it this way, “Life’s short and we never have enough time for gladdening the hearts of those who travel the way with us. O, be swift to love! Make haste to be kind.” Strive to be nice to others and you’ll boost your own feeling of happiness while you’re at it.

9. Do it Now

Do it first thing in the morning so you have less time to come up with excuses as the day goes on. Clever. Make it a daily routine and not a sporadic one and you’ll actually find that the task will become easier. Another great idea? Prepare. Divide a tough task by taking one day to get ready and anther day to execute.

10. Identify the Problem

Keep this in mind if you’re feeling annoyed or frustrated or otherwise miserable. By pinpointing the problem you force yourself to be mindful and come up with realistic solutions instead of staying caught up in the emotion of it. Try it and you’ll be surprised at how simple the solution might be.