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I will try to create more happiness and less unhappiness in the world around me

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Action 46

Make time for fun with family & friends

Fun is a serious business for happiness and especially important for our close relationships. Yet it's easy to overlook when we are busy with work and the practical demands of everyday life. And it doesn't need to cost a lot either.

Why do it?

As the pace of life has increased for many of us it's often at expense of enjoying time with family and friends. But scientific research highlights the importance of doing something fun with our partner, family and close friends. It makes us and them happier and it strengthens our relationships, which in turn leads to greater overall well-being.

Positive emotions make us more social and open to new experiences and ideas as individuals. Experiencing them together makes us feel closer and leads to long lasting bonds. Sharing novel experiences helps us and our relationships to grow and several studies have shown that it also increases relationship satisfaction.

So finding ways to have fun and do new things with your loved ones is a great way to build your happiness. So why not switch off the TV and find something new and fun to do together!

Where to start

1. Make time regularly

In busy times it can be difficult to get a good balance between work and life, which inludes enjoying yourself with friends and loved ones. Why not set a regular date with a friend, family member or loved one to do something fun and/or new together? Here are just a few ideas:

  • Set an evening a week aside as a games night
  • Organise secret dates - take turns, once a month to organise a secret date for your partner - it could be as simple as a nice walk somewhere new, a visit to a museum, or a sports event
  • Take turns with friends and family picking a surprise destination or activity
  • Cook together - picking a new dish each week

2. Discover something new

  • Go to a part of your town, area or country that you haven't been to before and see what good things you can discover
  • Find a way to make exercise fun together - like taking up a new sport or having dance lessons with your partner
  • Go to an event you've not been to together before - like an exhibition, show or sport match
  • Volunteer your time together in your local community
  • Find a fun way to make something happen for a good cause together - like a sponsored run or charity fundraising event

3. Encourage your children to play

  • Make things - it's a great way to recycle your household packaging!
  • Play games together - both inside and out
  • Encourage them to use their imaginations - like putting on a little show
  • Let them paint and draw and be creative

4. Be silly

Play isn't just for kids! Do something that will make you all laugh, for example:

  • Watching stand-up comedy
  • Going to an adventure playground
  • Playing a board game
  • Having a fancy dress party
References

Based on: Maisel, N.C. & Gable, S.L. (2009) For richer…in good times…and in health: positive processes in relationships. In S.J. Lopez & C.R. Snyder (Eds.) OxfordHandbook of Positive Psychology. NY: Oxford University Press.

Resources

  • Professional development programme on the practice of supporting child's play

  • How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul

  • Discover the Groundbreaking Science to Release Your Inner Optimist and Thrive

  • Why it Can Matter More Than IQ

  • Top tips on how to organise a street party

  • The UK's fastest-growing online parenting organisation

  • Provides knowledge, experience and support for parents

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Positive emotions make us more resilient

Our emotions affect our long term well-being. Research shows that experiencing positive emotions in a 3-to-1 ratio with negative ones leads to a tipping point beyond which we naturally become more resilient to adversity and better able to achieve things.