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6 steps to create happiness at home

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Mother, father and child walking holding hands

We hear it day in, day out. Facebook and other social media platforms have made a cult-like movement out of it and it seems to be the most pursued, yet most elusive of life goals.

Yes. Happiness.

Forget for a moment the philosophical ponderings around the existence of it or not. And, for the purposes of this article, let's not get bogged down in definition.

The big question here is when it comes to families, in their many varied versions and manifestations, how can we get somewhere close to being happy and resilient to as many of the curveballs that life throws as possible?

Communication, the experts all agree, is key. Talk to each other. Be open and honest; candid while still age-appropriate, frank without shattering idealism.

But what else?

Think for a second about your work place.

Do you work as part of a team? Think about the team’s professional development, the planning, the processes and the rules. It all works doesn’t it (well, mostly)?

We hear about Steven Covey (author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), Simon Sineks (author of the 2009 bestseller Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action), Eckhart Tolles (author of The Power of Now), and Dale Carnegie (author of How to Win Friends and Influence People) … the list goes on.

All great theories. All great thinkers. And their stuff really works.

So if it is worthwhile giving this a go at work, why wouldn't you adapt it to suit your life at home?

Tania Begg, of Impact Improvements, is an organisational coach who works with teams to bring them up to their best. 

Begg maintains we should be looking to balance every part of our lives in terms of what we give and the effort we put in, not just saving the good stuff for our professional selves.

"Sometimes I think we have a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde approach to how we are at home and then at work," Begg says.

"If we just took the time to stop and reflect – it need only be five to 10 minutes – and either think about or write down what we have done well and where we could have improved for the day, then we would see the number of facades we are wearing.

"We really do need to put our best foot forward in every facet of our lives".

It's easier said than done, and Begg concedes that.

But what if we adopted the same kind of framework tried and tested in our workplaces and applied them (albeit in a more relaxed and less structured manner) at home?

The framework Begg uses a lot through her organisational coaching, is one adapted from NeuroPower Group.

It is based on six key elements, which work together to create effective, functioning teams:

  1. Rules and Boundaries
  2. Expression and Communication
  3. Goals, Reward and Celebration
  4. Understanding Strengths (and how to use them)
  5. Measuring and Milestones
  6. Hope for the Future

"These are often ingrained and defined at work, and we can generally point to what applies to this framework at home once we sit down and think about it.

"But having these as a guide and working out some strategies to work within this framework can be very effective in strengthening the family unit, ensuring everyone feels heard and supported, and of course, facilitating the development and growth of your children into healthy, resilient, independent and contributing individuals."

Take the rules and boundaries, for instance. These are part of every family but ensuring these are known, understood and consistently considered helps create a foundation for knowing how we interact, communicate and function as a family.
Tania Begg

These frameworks also underpin a commitment to providing a secure, consistent and safe environment for children.

Professional coach, Rowena Hardy, of Minds Aligned, rates these as the most important fundamental needs of a child from birth to six years.

"These years – and making sure those core needs are met – are more important than people think," Hardy says.

"The first 1000 days of a child's life – so, that's from birth to about two-and-a-half – set the pattern for their future development.

"If a family isn't providing these core needs to a child, and in doing so making sure they feel safe, that is going to have an impact."

Hardy says children learn and develop via two main channels: imitation and induction.

It's here the functionality and structure of an organisational framework can help.

But let's not get carried away.

No-one is saying a rigid, structured and inflexible organisation model is the ticket to family success and happiness.

"It's just a guide and it can take a lot of the guess work out of it," Begg assures.

"Take the rules and boundaries, for instance. These are part of every family but ensuring these are known, understood and consistently considered helps create a foundation for knowing how we interact, communicate and function as a family. 

"It's about knowing what is acceptable and what's not. It's the understanding that we don't speak to each other in a certain way, or that there are expectations and there are boundaries."

Expression and communication, Begg says, is the ability or otherwise to easily and safely talk about how you are feeling and to put across a point of view.

Goals, reward and celebration are about a shared understanding about achievements and encouragement; ensuring everyone feels valued for their own differences and the achievements tied to those.

"Then, there is understanding each of our strengths. We all know what we do well and what chores we are better, quicker, better able to do.

"It's the allocation of tasks and working as a team to make the most of what we do best – that's at the simplest level."

Measuring is all about celebrating the milestones. It's the potty training, it's ticking off the tasks done and the earning of pocket money, for example. It's seeing the improvement and development at every stage and celebrating it to have the motivation to keep going.

"Finally, there is the hope for the future," Begg says.

"This is where the first five of these elements are met, and there is a genuine optimism and then planning for the future.

"It's resetting goals and making plans."

Both Begg and Hardy maintain happiness is an ambiguous, if not rather fickle, aspiration.

But whatever your definition, a little structure and taking the learnings from our "outside" lives, can make a big difference where it counts most.