Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Fun Factor

One of my favorite of Dr. Phil's lines is, "how much fun are you to live with?" It is useful from time to time to stop and reflect on how we are coming across to those whose lives touch ours. Are you an encourager to others, or a discourager? Do you grump around the house or the office, or does your presence brighten other people's day?

One researcher studied human perception, and designed 4 window panes of perception. There are the things you know about yourself that noone else knows, the things that are tranparent about you that others can also tell(like your eye color),the things that are unknown about you both to yourself and others, and finally, the things others know about you that you are not aware of. It is that last quadrant, of how others perceive you, that can be an instructive area for reflection.

Each person in a family is responsible for helping set the tone in the family. Families are complicated energy systems, and each person doing their part to make daily life, family meals ,events, chores, and routines peaceful and fun makes the family a better place to be. Family meetings at home, or family therapy with a skilled counselor, can make a huge difference in getting everyone to recognize the powerful impact of their tone, actions, and words on the rest of the family.

There is no place for sarcasm, insults, sullenness ,and refusing to talk to others, in a great marriage or family. Some people learned these passive-aggressive behaviors in their family of origin, but it doesn't mean they should be continued. I work with people in counseling to examine the communication styles and patterns in their families growing up, keep the good and get rid of the rest. Taking ownership of how you come across to those you love most, and live with daily, is empowering. If you can be open and non-defensive, you can learn much from asking those you live with about how you are doing in relating to them.

Taking responsibility for managing our own moods is key. Bring home your best self every day. Stop and set your intention to smile and greet family members,hug and kiss more often, and express your love and appreciation for them. Little surprises are nice, too. Often those closest to us can feel taken for granted, so take action in small ways to show you do care. If you are anxious, down, or angry,take positive personal action to move through those emotions rather than dragging them home to your family.

We need things to look forward to in marriages and families,too, so that the stress of routine tasks doesn't grind you down. This is why weekly date nights need to be sacred time for couples, and why family fun nights where you play together are so vital. You've got to love someone who you can giggle with over laser tag, or another silly game. Having a trip planned, as a couple, or as a family also helps to build positive anticipation. Even if it is months away, it helps boost the fun factor to have plans!

Make your home a no whining zone. This goes for adults, as well as children and teens. The family gets beaten down emotionally with the weight of constant complaining and negativity. Use the power of the family to have each family member deal with negative emotion more effectively--through counseling, action, exercise,etc., rather than torturing other family members to marinate in the negativity and toxicity of repeated whining.

Just think about the possibilities when you, your partner, and the whole household are all taking care to be fun, bring home your best selves, and work together to make your family a wonderful place to be. Now THIS could be fun.

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