Based on my experiences with my own (usually) happy family, there are a few things I know that work well when trying to create that peaceful place of fun and friendship. I know that when I eventually get married and begin my own family, I will want to start with a strong foundation of trust, love, work, and truth. Each family has its own special recipe for happiness, but here are a few things you may want to consider when working toward your own. Here's what I've learned so far:
1. Be a happy person
It really does start with you as an individual. If you don't have positive goals or a cheerful outlook, it is going to be a big hurdle to overcome when wanting a happy family. These things don't just happen overnight, and it almost always takes some time. Start with yourself and make sure you know the person you are and the things you want.
2. Be in a happy relationship
Of course there are tests and arguments and annoying habits and stressful in-laws, but by starting in a happy and trusting relationship you are that much closer to building a happier family. A couple that loves each other and stays together is the surest foundation for a tight knit and trusting family.
3. Maintain some order
You can't just throw candy around the house and play show tunes and hope that happiness arrives. To build a family is to bring in some guidelines and teach some work ethic. Don't think that rules always equal strictness. You can work with your children and spouse on household chores and family activities in order to strengthen everyone together.
4. Tune out
Technology is one of the fastest ways that families can crumble. Dinner conversations will soon turn to silent statues if you do not do something about it. Set limits on television time and computer games, and encourage face-to-face conversations and less texting. Happy families are those that communicate and know what is going on in each other's lives and not from finding out on Facebook.
5. Do things together
You may not all enjoy bike rides or bingo games, but find something the whole family can enjoy and do it. Our family loves watching movies together and even watches old home movies from time to time. We also each have a hobby with Mom or Dad — shopping, tennis, decorating the house, or washing the car (is that really a hobby?). Find fun things to do and start traditions.
6. Include everyone
That means grandparents, cousins, and extended relatives as well. Building a happy family does not limit you to the walls of your own home. Maybe you want to be closer to your mother-in-law or find out more about your cousin you haven't talked to in years. Family is the center of love and life and happiness, so remember all of those who you can call family.
The fastest way to disrupt the happiness in our home is when family members begin to yell. Whether it's calling on children to do chores or arguing between rooms, yelling should never become normal. David O. McKay said, "There should be no yelling in the home unless there is a fire." I agree.
While these things are proven to bring people closer together, your family may be different. Take time to figure out where you want your family to go and what level of happiness you can attain. Doing service as a family also bonds members closer, as well as adding new members to the group. You have chosen these people to be yours forever, so it's crucial to love them every step of the way.
Jenna Koford is on the content team at FamilyShare. She graduated with a degree in Communications—Journalism and a minor in editing. Jenna enjoys painting and calligraphy, planning a wedding, and Pinterest and Netflix.