By Jackie White
News Flash! Your family is central to your overall happiness and life satisfaction. Oh, you already knew that? Did you know that the number one indicator of life satisfaction is spending time with those who you love and who love you too? It’s number one, that’s important. So, how do we make sure we are doing that effectively? This is the question Bruce Feiler has asked (and answered) in his book The Secrets of Happy Families. In today’s blog, we delve into the 3 key strategies (plus one bonus strategy!) in his playbook for happy families.
Adapt All The Time
If this lesson were to be distilled down into one word it would be “flexible”. Flexibility in family management is key to keeping stress down. It’s very easy to get stuck in thoughts of how a family should be run. From rules to roles, the scripts that may have come before may need to be thrown out and retooled to fit your family. Think of it as customizing your family experience! Get creative and, as a family, write new rules for your family. Work as a team, of course, guided by the parents, but show your children they are an important part of your family and give them a voice. This leads us to our next play in this book.
Example: My family structure is one where my husband travels frequently. That has defined the way our family works. We eat together when we can, Dad attends concerts and sporting events when he can, but Mom is always there. That doesn’t mean Dad loves the kids less, it just is a reality for our family. We adjust schedules when Dad is out of town and that is a norm for us.
Talk. A Lot
Clear and frequent communication is always key. There is the communication between the parents that can set the tone for the family unit. That needs to be managed and both parents must work in unison for proper leadership in the family. Secondly, allowing children to speak and be heard is important for the child to be able to feel good about themselves and grow into well-adjusted adults. Feiler explains most healthy families talk a lot. Talk during mealtimes to long car rides, from disputes between partners and among siblings, and/or talks about money, or activities. It is these kinds of conversations that happen daily that benefit from effective communication as that is the foundation of happy and successful families.
Example: I have teens and they are barely home, so to sit and talk with them is precious time. I make a point to set up lunch dates with them so we can get some face to face time. As well, I use the words of their generation and I text a lot when they aren’t present. It lets them know I am thinking of them and that I am interested in what they are doing.
Go Out and Play
This one is a big one that can get forgotten in all the management of shuffling kids to sports, activities, home cleaning, shopping, preparing meals, and managing the stuff. We all need play and fun. It’s what creates memories, traditions, and happiness. Involving the entire family in planning the play whether it be an afternoon outing, a vacation, or family fun nights can be a great way to practice all the steps of being flexible, communicating, and having fun together.
Example: Fun has always been a priority in our family, so this one can be found in most anything we do. We joke around together, play games and watch Tic Toks and laugh together. (Remember, you have to speak your kid’s language, so Tic Toks it is!).
If you want a happy family, these three strategies will help you to get there, but that’s just the beginning. Your end goal of a happy family begins with you choosing happiness. Once you make that decision the easiest path to happiness is to take action towards that through a positive mindset. Setting the example for your children that they have control over their own happiness can be the best gift you can give them. Providing them a happy childhood can be the next greatest gift you can give not only to them individually but to your entire family.
Jackie White has been writing about life and its ups and downs for many years. With a degree in Industrial Psychology and a life-long student of personal development she is intrigued by how each individual chooses to live their life. Jackie feels strongly that truly living your best life is imperative to attaining peace and fulfillment. SoulShine was borne of her desire to inspire and teach others to live their best life. This is her mission and her dream.