Life Hacks for Family Happiness: 15 Ways To Think Differently
By Jennifer Elizabeth Masters
After two back-to-back weekends, first with my adult son, Adam and then all three of my adult children for my daughter’s college graduation, I have some suggestions that will help you enjoy life and your family more.
Graduations, celebrations and holidays bring us together with our family. Many people dread family time. Let’s face it, who knows you better than your children, parents, and siblings? When people know you well they have the innate ability to touch on our most tender trigger points. Family can bring us joy, but they can also dredge up old stories and pain that hasn’t been healed.
- Stop trying to change them. Acceptance is part of unconditional love. If you don’t accept someone as they are, there are also parts of yourself that you reject as well. If you look at others and ask why don’t they just _________ you are judging and criticizing. It doesn’t help your relationship when you don’t accept your family members as they are. When you stop “helping” family members with your suggestions for improving their life, you will have more peace within you as well.
- Let go of control. The only person we have total control over is ourselves. Letting go of control of others will allow you and them more peace and ease between you.
- Don’t say, “I told you so!” Even if you are great at predicting outcomes, like I am, telling your family members that you were right about what was going to happen creates irritation and will destroy your relationship.
- Remember each person is having their own experience. You may have been on the planet longer, had more experience and learned so much. Each person has to learn their lessons their way along their road of life. We can’t short-circuit someone else’s experience. We can’t save another person. We can only save ourselves.
- Keep negative comments to yourself. Nothing irritates others more than when we critique another’s life by condemning their decisions or choices.
- Put yourself in their shoes. Until we walk in someone else’s shoes we have no idea of what they experience.
- Be compassionate. When a family member tells you a story of woe be caring, kind and listen. Sometimes that is all they need.
- Be sympathetic but don’t encourage self-pity. Sometimes family members wallow in self-pity. You can offer questions to guide a shift in attitude by asking how they could possibly think differently about their situation?
- Ask questions. When we ask questions we are showing concern, that we are listening, and care about what our family member is talking about.
- Remind yourself that you were in a similar situation once. When we have the ability to apply what another person is experiencing to our own life we can see similar patterns, areas we can continue to be compassionate for ourselves and grow. Personal growth is what we are here for. Nothing is happening by accident.
- Everyone is reflecting back to us. Relationships provide a wonderful mirror into our own soul. Rather than thinking you are better than the other person look within and see where you could make some changes for the better.
- What you see in others, you also have within you. Okay, I may be repeating myself here. It is important to notice what is happening in our relationships as there is always something for us in everything that happens. What similarities do you have with this other person? What parts of you need to soften, and become more loving? What patterns are coming up for you? What in you is being triggered? If emotions are surfacing within you from another’s presence, spend a little time asking what is in it for you? The happier you are with you, the more ease you will have in all your relationships – especially family.
- We all want to be loved and accepted for who we are. When we critique other’s lives we push them away. If you are not accepting your family as they are, you may find yourself a very lonely person. Non-acceptance of others may cause your family to avoid you. Ask yourself if you are being loving? Are you being accepting? Or are you trying to change your family members?
- Forgive. Families have conflict. We have disagreements. Forgiveness is a part of a healthy, balanced relationship. Forgiveness has been scientifically proven to help us live longer. If you are still holding onto the past, ask yourself why? Holding onto resentment, anger and pain from the past isn’t healthy. You will end up causing yourself health problems from not letting go. Do the Ho’oponopono Prayer of forgiveness beginning with yourself and then forgive your family member.
- Keep your comments to a minimum: “That’s fabulous!” “That’s a bummer!” “Wow! That is wonderful for you!” “Congratulations!” Our personal negative commentary about another’s life especially when it is a family member creates conflict. They might not be doing it your way, but that is the point of living our own life, isn’t it?
Remember even if you have become awakened and self-actualized you might be rendering judgment on another person. Remind yourself to be compassionate with yourself and others. Our family is important. Healing issues with parents, siblings and offspring will bring you much joy and happiness. Unhealed relationships will bring you down and cause you pain.
Even when behavior seems to be unforgivable, forgive anyway. Forgiveness is for you. Forgiveness releases you from the burden of resentment and suffering.
If you have issues with a family member it is because you have something inside of you that needs some TLC and awareness.
When we lovingly accept ourselves as we are with all our faults
and flaws, we have healthy self-esteem.