A quick, easy way to spread family cheer.

One of my resolutions is to “Spread family cheer.”

To keep that resolution, I’ve been trying to send out happy, chatty family emails. It doesn’t take much effort, it’s very efficient, and by doing a good deed, I make myself happier, too (do good, feel good).

I’ve made it a practice always to send out an email after one of the girls has a check-up. Grandparents, aunts, and uncles—not to mention the Big Man—want to hear everything the doctor had to say.

I’m also trying to get in the habit of sending out emails with funny or sweet stories, as well—how the Little Girl lay in her crib for an hour, belting out songs at the top of her lungs, before falling asleep, or how the Big Girl spent hours carefully making Valentine’s cards for the children in her class.

At last, I’ve learned how to send digital photos over email (was I the last person on the planet to figure this out?), so I want to start sending photos, as well. My in-laws live right around the corner from us (right around the corner), so they don’t really need any pictures, but I know my parents and sister would love to get them.

I used to think it seemed boastful or self-centered to send out such emails, but I realize now that it’s a loving thing to do. They give everyone a quick jolt of happiness in the middle of their day.

As odd as it may sound, I’ve realized that we have a duty to be happy. One person’s happy news has the power to lift other people’s happiness as well—and this is particularly true of spouses and parents and children. Focusing attention on good news instead of bad news also helps to boost happiness.

So by sending out little happy emails, I can lift the spirits of others in my family.

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“Passion catalyst” Curt Rosengren from the Occupational Adventure has just started another interesting blog, HappyRant. Intriguing name. It’s meant to counteract our inclination to focus on the negative, but it’s not just positive kittens-rescued-from-trees stories; he aims to set our sights on higher things.

Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • http://www.patsyterrell.com Patsy Terrell

    My Rule number 4 for living is – “Be Happy. You have no right to be anything else. You are blessed. Appreciate it.”

  • http://michelleandchristy.typepad.com/rainbow_chills/ Christy

    My sister includes these types of updates in her daily blog. I love it because I get to see pictures of my niece and nephew doing typical, day to day things, and know about how things are going basically every day.
    There certainly may be a security concern for folks who don’t want their kids names and photos floating out on the internet but it is possible to password protect sites and only give the password to family and friends.
    I really love being able to catch up with my sister and her kids in this way.

  • Sophia

    Hi Gretchen
    You may like this website. http://www.kindness.com.au/ The page marked “Angel Dust” has some nice stories. I haven’t had time to look through the whole site, but it certainly reinforces many of the things you have been researching.
    It is an australian website, I am in Australia at the moment to see my family, and picked up the link from one of the newspapers here. It is very relevant in Australia at the moment, as the country is suffering from a leadership that is markedly conservative and defensive in nature, that doesn’t reflect the growing awareness of the people.
    Awareness that is spread through connections via internet, emails and blogs!

  • Sophia

    Hi Gretchen
    You may like this website. http://www.kindness.com.au/ The page marked “Angel Dust” has some nice stories. I haven’t had time to look through the whole site, but it certainly reinforces many of the things you have been researching.
    It is an australian website, I am in Australia at the moment to see my family, and picked up the link from one of the newspapers here. It is very relevant in Australia at the moment, as the country is suffering from a leadership that is markedly conservative and defensive in nature, that doesn’t reflect the growing awareness of the people.
    Awareness that is spread through connections via internet, emails and blogs!

  • http://www.monicaricci.typepad.com Monica Ricci

    Gretchen, I LOVE what you said about that we have a duty to be happy. I have long thought that. Our mood and mindset is always creating SOMETHING. If we’re dour and negative, that’s what we’re contributing to the world and those around us. Not such a great contribution, especially when you figure that it can and does create a negative “domino effect”.
    If we’re positive, happy, confident and hopeful, THAT’S what we’re contributing to the world and those around us, which is a pretty rockin’ thing to be contributing. It has the potential to create a positive domino effect that that’s awesome!
    ~Monica

  • http://www.geneticsandhealth.com Hsien Lei

    Hiya. I’ve been reading The Happiness Project for a couple of months now so am not sure if you addressed the role of genetics in a person’s basic happiness level. A family’s general level of happiness may actually hover near the same mark so spreading family cheer may be easier in some families than in others. :)
    I wrote about a post about the genetics of happiness yesterday:
    http://www.geneticsandhealth.com/2007/02/20/your-gene-determine-a-third-of-your-happiness/

  • http://www.inquisitrix.com Melissa

    Hello Gretchen – I just found your site and enjoy it immensely! I grew up in Kansas City also (by the way – great to see a local girl do well!) and I moved to Australia over a year ago to be with my husband. Australia is in severe need of a shot in the arm of happiness as the culture is ‘naturally sarcastic’ to begin with, as my husband says, so I agree with Sophia’s remarks above.
    I also wanted to second your thoughts about sending family emails out to spread cheer. I miss my extended family and friends a great deal and my sister-in-law sends out great emails with pictures of their kids. Those pictures and stories are like water to me – I have a broadband phone so I can talk to my loved ones daily but there is something about the written word and seeing those pictures that make my day brighter. I can go back to them again and again and it is a sweet touchstone for me. It gives me a sense of connection that I treasure.
    I am back in KC for a couple of months for a work project and I have made it a point to tell everyone how valuable those emails and photos are. My younger sister told me that she never realized that those emails would mean so much to me and is now going to start doing the same.
    Gretchen, you have hit the nail on the head.