Gretchen Rubin

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.

"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.

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