There are numerous studies that show how beneficial a happy family life is to one’s overall health. In fact, it has been shown that a fun and supportive family life can even add years to one’s life expectancy. So…that, being the case; it’s a no-brainer that we should do all that we can to ensure that our family is a place of safety, acceptance and fun. To make your family even more FabYOUlous, make sure that these five crucial keys are a part of your family life.
1.) Spontaneity: A 30 year study of over 16,000 strong families found that the happiest families made it a point to surprise each other with fun activities. These activities weren’t necessarily elaborate; instead, it was the element of surprise that made them special. To incorporate more spontaneity into your family life, take the family on a spur of the moment ice cream run (a favorite in our family–even big teenage boys will gladly join in if it means free ice cream) or warm up the oven and bake a batch of unplanned cookies together. Fun, unexpected moments like these can create a fun sense of unity without requiring a lot of effort.
2.) Affection: Hugs or high-fives, it doesn’t matter how your family chooses to show affection for each other but the happiest families are affectionate. According to Richard Eyre, co-author of Teaching Your Children Values; physical affection is a hallmark of happy families. Happy families seem to instinctively know when to offer a supportive pat on the back, comforting hug, playful butterfly kisses or a celebratory high-five.
3.) Traditions: They can be silly or more meaningful, but special traditions are an important component for family bonding and give family members a sense of intimacy, security and belonging. So whether it’s bedtime stories every night or root beer floats after the first day of school, establishing traditions that are unique to your family will bring everyone closer and increase feelings of happiness and well being.
4.) Cheerleading: No, you don’t need to don a short skirt and shake pom poms but happy families DO cheer for each other. Whether it’s bundling up to root for your high school son as he takes to the football field or planning a special dinner to celebrate dad’s new promotion–happy families celebrate each other’s accomplishments. Celebrations don’t need to be elaborate or expensive–just heartfelt.
5.) History: Research shows that the bonds between family members are strengthened when stories of the family’s history are shared. Photo albums, journals and video recordings are great ways to archive your family’s stories so that they can be passed down and shared through the generations. This appreciation for one’s heritage makes family members feel a sense of connection and pride in one’s roots.