This is how Bruce Feiler ends his brilliant book, The Secrets of Happy Families. I just finished it tonight and have loved it so much, I have to write up a quick review. It’s not just another book on how to raise your kids better, how to be a more loving couple, or how to make things run more smoothly with chores or the inlaws. Feiler notes, and I tend to agree, that to a certain extent a lot of books about families tend to repeat the same information.
So what Feiler has done is a bit more roundabout. He talks to the successful business consultants on how they get groups working together in family meetings. He talks to a Green Beret about getting teams working well for family reunions. He talks to psychologists (about family dinners), finance gurus (about allowance), and Harvard professors (about resolving conflict and having tough conversations). It’s new and groundbreaking information… and he applies it to families.
I think one of my favorite chapters was on vacations. Feiler met with the gaming experts at Zynga who created Words with Friends. The ideas they presented led to a fascinating proposal of doing long and epic scavenger hunts and family competitions on vacations to make memories. It gives me so much to look forward to for when my kids get older. There was of course the very helpful look at pre-trip checklists and how to make them work for you.
I recommend this book to everyone who is part of a family. So good. As part of the conclusion, Feiler writes, “The easiest route to unhappiness is to do nothing… The easiest path to happiness is to do something.” And that’s why he says, if you want a happy family… Try it.