The quality of your home and family life is something that makes or breaks your happiness quotient: if your home life is in the pits, it colors everything else you do negatively, and the opposite is true. You see some families that appear genuinely happy, and others…well, not so much. What are the secrets of happy families, and how can you put those secrets into use to help make YOUR family a happier one?

Making Traditions…and Memories.

Family traditions and rituals are some of the best ways to bond your family through unique shared experiences. Family movie or game nights, special dinners, particular phrases, and other things that only your family does creates an “us” view that encourages sharing, trust, and great memories. If you don’t have any, start some! It’s as simple as declaring Wednesday “Pancake Night” or always tucking in and saying goodnight to your kids a certain way.

Have Family Dinners (or lunches or breakfasts).

The family dinner used to be the staple of the day for the older generation, and it’s one that has unfortunately begun to be less and less common in this day and age. Everyone sitting down together at the table and sharing a meal, conversation, and experiences fosters trust and familiarity, and gives everyone a chance to take a break from their separate lives and exist as a family unit. Even if you can’t do it every night, make sure you and yours spend at least a couple of nights a week facing each other over some food, so you can catch up with each other, laugh with and support each other as a unit.

Play Together.

Whether it’s board or card games, touch football, or hide and seek, playing as as family bonds and makes memories.

Cheer Each Other On.

Rather than leaving the other kids at home while you go to Junior or Jane’s soccer games or band events, bring them along! Every child should have a cheering section, and knowing that you have a group of people encouraging and rooting for you at every turn is great for self esteem and for creating stronger bondsd as a family.

Get Hands-On.

My family is very touchy-feely, always hugging, tickling, tackling, and kissing. Yours may be more reserved, but there is almost never a bad time to give a hug, a pat on the back, or a quick peck. Physical contact bonds people, and if your kids are used to positive physical affection, they are more likely to be physically demonstrative themselves, passing on the love to the next generation.

Laugh. A Lot.

It’s impossible to stay mad when you’re laughing. Try not to take life so seriously: rather than getting upset about your kids coating themselves in flour while trying to make cookies, try laughing about it instead. Laughter is the best medicine, and it is definitely better than yelling for the blood pressure and mood.

At the end of the day, the secrets of happy families are simple: spend time together and show each other you care. If you can manage those two things, you will be among the lucky ones.