What does it take to have a happy family?
Relationship expert John Gottman may just have the answer. However, I think my six-year-old know the happy family secret too. Interestingly enough, their conclusion is similar. John bases his ideas on scientific data and has come up with a specific happy family algorithm. My daughter, on the other hand, simply knows what brings her joy.
Frankly, I think both are right.
If you are looking for ideas on how to have a happy family. You have come to the right place. Keep reading and see if you agree with us on what it takes to create happiness at home. Then dive into our list of 41 happy family ingredients. Use these simple ideas to elevate the joy in your home fast!
Our Happy Family Story
“Daddy, we have to remember our Fifth of July celebration next year,” my six-year-old daughter exclaimed! This year, our family’s Fourth of July celebration was an epic fail. My wife had to work late. I took the kids to the top of a popular hill to watch fireworks. Unfortunately, the hill was engulfed in clouds, and no fireworks were visible. Needless to say, our family was not happy.
The next day, my wife and I attempted to make up for this Fourth of July tragedy. Thinking quickly, we BBQ’d hot-dogs in the back yard. This was followed by a water balloon fight. Next, everyone themselves in temporary tattoos, and we all ate ice-cream Sundays.
Later that evening, our six-year-old cheerfully chatted with me at our dining-room table. She reviewed every detail of what needed to happen during next year’s Fifth of July, family fun day. That’s right, our Fourth of July celebration was an epic fail. However, through our daughter’s eyes, our July fifth celebration was so fantastic that she wanted to turn it into a new tradition.
Our six-year-old remembered the hot-dogs, back yard pick-nick, water balloon fight, temporary tattoos, and ice-cream. Every last detail was seared into her mind.
For our daughters, having a happy family is all about the little things!
The Science of A Happy Family
According to relationship researcher John Gottman, there is a scientific formula for happy relationships. Happy couples have a 5/1 ratio. That is, they have five positive interactions for every negative one. Although the majority of John’s research focuses on couples, I think the same principle easily applies to happy families. My six-year-old would certainly agree!
Other researchers such as Erik Barker suggest that this number might be as low as 3/1. Erik describes this happiness ratio in his article: Here’s the Magic Number That Leads to Happiness. While these numbers differ slightly, one possible explanation is that “While 3 to 1 keeps you happy, 5 to 1 keeps relationships smooth.”
On a similar note, in his book Positive Intelligence, author Shirzad Chamine suggests that only about 20% of people manage to achieve the 3/1 positivity ratio needed for happiness. Shirzad takes this even further, applying the 3/1 ratio to our thoughts. He suggests that three happy thoughts for every negative thought allow individuals and teams to function at their best!
These statistics are relevant to families too because you and your family are a team. If there is one thing all the experts agree on it’s that happy couples, families, and teams have far more positive interactions than negative ones. According to the research, it sounds like the greater the number of happy family interactions, the happier the family!
[Tweet “Happy families team-up to create frequent, happy family moments.”]
A Simple Recipe for a Happy Family
Happy families have more positive interactions than negative ones. So would you and your family like to be happier? Here’s the recipe for that. Instead of focusing on creating more breathtaking family experiences, hone in on the small things instead. The recipe for a happy family is less about the Fourth of July fireworks and more about the Fifth of July hot-dogs, temporary tattoos, and ice-cream. It’s the accumulation of many small, simple moments together that matters most!
[Tweet “It’s the accumulation of many small, simple moments together, that create a happy family life.”]
30 Happy Family Ingreients
If you are looking for a happy family recipe, then here are some of my favorite ingredients:
- Having a regular family pizza and movie night.
- Better yet, compound your happiness by making homemade pizza together first.
- Even better yet, test out these pizza cones I found on Facebook. They look delicious, and our family can’t wait to give them a try!
- Read a children’s book together.
- Watch a cartoon with your kids. Right now, all our girls are into The Ultimate Spiderman. He’s my favorite superhero, and we love watching this show together.
- Have a water-balloon fight.
- Treat your family to ice-cream.
- Make homemade snow cones.
- Bring flowers home for everyone.
- Watch a favorite sporting event.
- Put together a puzzle as a family.
- Say, “I love you,” a lot.
- Laugh often.
- Go sledding.
- Have a snowball fight.
- Play frisbee golf.
- Color in a coloring book.
- Do nothing and simply enjoy one another’s presence.
- Play a board game.
- Tell jokes—the more ridiculous, the better.
- Create your own jokes.
- Dive into a book of family conversation starters. Here’s one I wrote for just such an occasion: 131 Creative Conversations for Kids.
- Go for a walk.
- Run together.
- Have a family picnic.
- Roast marshmallows.
- Make smores.
- Go camping.
- Tell ghost stories.
- Read a family devotional.
- Attended church together.
- Watch gameshow. The Floor is Lava is our family favorite.
- Have a staring contest.
- Have a paper airplane throwing contest.
- Go out for doughnuts.
- Bake cookies.
- Sit by a bonfire.
- Read the same book and talk about it—kind of like a family book club.
- Play laser-tag.
- Play hide-and-go-seek.
- Engage in a game of tag.
- Buil a fort.
- Make a tent and read a book in it.
- Camp in the back yard.
- Find a mountain to hike.
- Swim in a lake.
- Walk at night and look at the stars.
- Build a Lego tower.
- Watch a favorite movie from your childhood together.
- Look at old photo albums.
- Make a collage.
- Tell your kids a story about a time you got in trouble as a kid.
The Happy Family
A happy family is a connected family. They enjoy big moments of happiness together. But even more importantly, happy families take advantage of small moments of happiness. And they do this often! So dive into these happy family ingredients. Try them out, use them often, and increase the level of joy in your home!
Continue the Conversation
Dive deeper into creating a happy family home with these questions for reflection and discussion:
I look forward to continuing the conversation in the comments below. I wish you and your family many happy moments together in the days ahead!