Making the Family Happy and Thinking Outside the Box

I’m a firm believer that family is a big part of your personal happiness. ‘No man is an island’ is how the famous quote goes. And I think that’s certainly true.

But the only way for your family to keep you happy is for you to keep them happy. It’s a two-way exchange. So the first thing I think you have to do is to give them gifts. But not the gifts you might think of.

Nobody is going to remember the time when you bought them the latest iPhone. What they will remember is the gift of experience.

The gift of experience can be anything from a day on the coast to a trip down to London. It doesn’t have to cost half as much as you think to create those great memories. Not only will they have a great time, you’ll have a great time too. Both you and your family will value each other more.

Now it’s time for what makes everyone the happiest. It’s a great revelation in the age we live in today. Are you ready?

Talk to them.

I know, it’s an incredible revelation in a time where everyone appears to be glued to one screen or another. I can’t underline how valuable just sitting down to talk is. This is why in my house I make sure that everyone sits down for dinner at the table and no phones/tablets are allowed.

You don’t really have to be talking about anything that important. But socialising is great for happiness. Look online and you’ll find a multitude of studies backing this up. Keeping people happy is about being able to socialise with them in some meaningful way.

If your only interaction is “what’s the football score?”, it’ll soon be like you haven’t spoke for seven years. Make a real effort to go further than that.

I could ramble on about this for hours, but I believe that the last thing you need to do is to recognise what’s important to everyone within your family.

Simply taking an interest in the things that matter most to each person, and not trampling over it, is a big step. It sends a message that you really care.

Now I’m not saying that I’m wild about my son and his video games. I’m also not wild about my daughter’s obsession with wanting to become a hair stylist. But that doesn’t matter. I still talk to them about it and make an effort to take interest.

We all have things we care about and don’t care about. Just stop thinking about yourself for one second. Sometimes the only thing we share in common with our families is that we’re family. Don’t let that stop you from letting them know you care about what they do, though.

What I’m Doing to Make My Christmas a Happier One

You would be forgiven for thinking that it was mere days away from Christmas Day if you looked at the average high street in the UK. But alas, it’s still November and we’re still quite far away from the big day.

But I’ve already started thinking about Christmas Day (damn you, Starbucks, and your festive cups) and I thought back to previous Christmas Days. There’s the usual array of expensive presents, reruns of old comedy shows, and the traditional family punch-up.

What disappointed me was that not all of these Christmas years were particularly happy ones. Now I’m not interested in blaming anyone for that. What I am interested in is making this Christmas a happy one. Call me old fashioned, I know.

So am I trying to do differently this year?

I’m not refusing to buy presents so, as a family, we can rediscover the true meaning of Christmas. I’m not crazy and I’m not THAT cheap. What I’m doing this year is leaving.

That’s right, I’m taking the whole family and we’re getting away from the usual Christmas setting.

Some people will tell you that if you’re not happy somewhere you need to change your environment. To avoid some of the downsides of previous festive seasons, I’m taking that advice to heart and we’re going somewhere else.

I wish I could take everyone to the Swiss Alps or some fantastical festive town in Lapland, but I lack the funds for that. So we’re literally going an hour away to the coast. We’re going self-catering and we’re going to enjoy our Christmas in a cottage overlooking the sea.

I’ve learned that if you want to be happier you need to temper your expectations. I’m going into this not knowing if it will be the answer I’ve been looking for or that it won’t be a complete disaster. I’m just taking it as it comes. The family are all excited about it when I revealed it just a few days ago.

Not saying that this is going to become our Christmas tradition, but I think a break away from the usual will do a lot to reinvigorate everyone’s Christmas spirit.

I think this is something everyone can do in life, and should aim to do. If you think the grass may be greener on the other side, do it.

Where will you be spending Christmas Day this year?