Want to be Happier? Connect with Your Family

Farmer'sMarket--7-10-10As we gathered to celebrate our family reunion this weekend, I noticed the interactions as the family arrived. We had food prepared, t-shirts, amenity bags and games. Everyone was looking forward to our bus tour and banquet. But the thing that drew everyone the most was the wall sized family tree chart that my son, Herbert, created.

Our family could trace ourselves back to two brothers who were born in Texas in the late 1800’s. It was our ability to pinpoint our origins and see the connecting points that deepened our bond.

Weeks before the reunion I called various family to see if they would attend. The common response from those who had no plans to attend was, “I don’t know any of those folks.”

“That’s the purpose of the reunion,” I pointed out.

Family flew and drove in from four states and yet some who lived within a short distance of the celebration didn’t see the value in attending. They clearly shortchanged themselves.

Researchers have discovered that people who describe themselves as happy have strong relationships with family and friends.

We connect with our loved ones not because they are perfect or share all of our interests. Every family has positive and negative dynamics that have contributed to the way we have become. Shake any family tree and skeletons, hurt feelings, jealousy and unresolved issues will fall out. And yet, connecting with family is still important.

While a family reunion isn’t the time to resolve old issues or erase hurt feelings, avoiding family will only serve to keep these painful issues buried inside you where they are destined to keep inflicting pain.

When we connect with our family it can give us insights that help us to better understand ourselves. Recognizing the difficult times our ancestors endured and how those experiences shaped their lives and their parenting can be helpful in giving us understanding, compassion, strength, resilience and coping skills.

I enjoyed hearing about my mother from her cousins who remembered her as a girl and shared stories of the times they spent together.

I also enjoyed watching my grandchildren run their fingers across the family tree chart and pinpoint where they came in, as well as well meet many relatives for the first time.

Even families who have only a few members or adults who only know their adopted families, connecting with each other is very important to rekindle old bonds, be reminded that you have an anchor and be able to establish ties that have been broken by distance and time.

Family reunions are also a great leveling time when family of all different income and achievement levels gain perspective on the love, hope and perseverance that we all share.

Family connections are not limited to blood relationships. There is strength in discovering your heritage in whatever form it exists.

To increase your happiness, connect with your family where you can transmit your experiences and values, as well as absorb and pass on pride from generation to generation.

Celebrate Color Your Life Happy Day on August 9th

momMany of us begin the year making resolutions, but within a few weeks our promises to ourselves have been forgotten.

A Wall Street Journal article shared plans some people made to help them stick to their resolutions. Some kept their goals small and achievable. Others asked friends to help them stay on track by holding them accountable. Others found success when they changed their environment to support their new behavior.

Here we are at the start of the second half of the year. How did you do with your resolutions this year?

Regardless of how you fared in this annual practice, here’s an opportunity to start anew.

On August 9th join me in celebrating the first “Color Your Life Happy Day”, a day to participate in something you enjoy, some activity that will make you happy and others too. Then make a decision to make it a habit to continue finding joy, pleasure, a way to help others for the rest of the year.

Happiness is not a destination, but the things we do along the way as we live our lives. At the end of their lives, many wish they had slowed down, worked less and spent more time enjoying family, friends and fun activities. Don’t let this be you. Regrets are a waste. Do the things that bring you joy and happiness everyday.

This special celebration was inspired by the memory of my mother, Mildred S. Morris, who would have turned 100 years old on August 9, 2010 (she passed at age 92 in 2002.) She spent her life making people happy with her music. She played piano and organ from childhood through her mid 80’s for many churches, organizations and events. Everyone who ever heard her play was touched by her lively and fervent style.

I invite you to join me in celebrating Color Your Life Happy Day on August 9th. Then between August 10th-15th send me a photo or video of how you celebrated to my email at flora@florabrown.com

You may choose to enjoy a simple pleasure such as taking time off to read a neglected book. You may join the courageous who use this day to get control of the clutter that has been making them very unhappy.

I’m thinking of creating a new vegetable garden or maybe I’ll do some long-neglected scrapbooking.

So get busy thinking of how you will celebrate “Color Your Life Happy Day.” Then on August 9th take a picture showing how you celebrated. Email it to me at flora@florabrown.com with your name, activity, and city/state/country. I will post all entries on my blog and Facebook.

I’m looking forward to the wonderful array of celebrations.