Cover image for 100 simple secrets of happy families : what scientists have learned and how you can use it
100 simple secrets of happy families : what scientists have learned and how you can use it
Niven, David, 1971-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
[San Francisco] : HarperSanFrancisco, [2004]

Physical Description:
xiii, 209 pages ; 19 cm
Format :


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HQ515 .N58 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HQ515 .N58 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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The Simple Science of a Happy Family

From raising children to getting along with in-laws, what do people with close and loving families do differently than those with strained or unfulfilling relationships? Sociologists, therapists, and psychiatrists have spent entire careers investigating the ins and outs of family dynamics, yet their findings are inaccessible to ordinary people, hidden in obscure journals to be shared with other experts. Now, David Niven, the international bestselling author of The 100 Simple Secret series has collected the most current and significant data from more than a thousand of the best scientific studies on families and then spelled out the findings in plain English.

The advice is based not on one person's unique experiences or opinions, but offers for the first time the research of noted scientists studying average American families. These findings have been boiled down to one hundred essential ways to find and maintain love, joy, and satisfaction in all family relationships. Each statistic is accompanied by a true story about a real family showing the results in action.

Don't Forget the Past: Parents who share stories of family history with their children create higher levels of concern for family members and increase the likelihood of their children's happiness.

No Price Tag: Once basic necessities are met, the increasing economic status of one's family has zero effect on the likelihood of feeling satisfied with life.

Let Every Opinion Be Heard: Senior citizens having trouble living in their own homes are 84 percent more likely to be satisfied with their housing situation if they feel as if their concerns are an important part of selecting a new home or facility.

The Greatest Gift: Life satisfaction is 72 percent more likely among those who feel content with their family life.

Author Notes

David Niven, Ph.D., is a psychologist and social scientist who teaches at Florida Atlantic University



100 Simple Secrets of Happy Families What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It One Be a Good Friend Looked at from a distance, a family is infinitely complex. But looked at from the most basic level, a family is a series of personal relationships, and those relationships are like any other close, important relationship in your life. Treat your family members as you would treat a friend -- as if you have chosen to be in their company and wish them to choose to be in yours -- and you will have taken the most important, most fundamental step toward having a rewarding family life. Looking back fifteen years ago, Briana remembers what it was like to not quite fit in. "I was brainy, and I didn't get in trouble," Briana says of her early teen years. "There were a lot of kids around me who didn't understand that, didn't respect that. I refused to do the things that might gain me more acceptance, but I was crushed by the feeling of being left out." But Briana's mother was there to offer comfort and support. "I thought I would never survive those years, but my mother wisely made our home a sanctuary where I could talk about my troubles. She always listened carefully, no matter how trivial or monumental my worries. Her faith in me helped me gain confidence in my abilities today. I walk to my own beat with pride because of her." Briana says what her mother offered mostly was friendship. "She's the ultimate friend. She's there for me. She's on my side. She let me be me, and embraced me for it." While making other friends was easier after her middleschool trials, Briana never forgot the lesson in friendship from her mother. "My mom has made the world a better place for many people. I only hope to do the same in time." Researchers studying those who enjoyed close family relationships and close friendships find that the key factors to both are the same, including a strong desire to be in the company of others and to value them. Moreover, they find that people can increase their receptivity to close relationships if they want to. Pike and Atzaba-Poria 2003 100 Simple Secrets of Happy Families What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It . Copyright © by David Niven. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from 100 Simple Secrets of Happy Families: What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It by David Niven All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. xi
1. Be a Good Friendp. 1
2. Family Makes a New Youp. 3
3. Take Strength from Your Focusp. 5
4. There Are Second Chancesp. 7
5. Find a Community That Fits Your Familyp. 9
6. Believe in Yourself to Help Your Familyp. 11
7. Saying Nothing Says Somethingp. 13
8. We Make Our Own Family Successp. 15
9. Dedication Matters More than Occupationp. 17
10. It's OK to Be Right When Everyone Else Is Wrongp. 19
11. Let Your Goals Live with Youp. 21
12. Tell Your Family Storyp. 23
13. Don't Hide from Your Familyp. 25
14. You Define a Child Every Dayp. 27
15. Listen Without Judgmentp. 29
16. Closeness Cannot Be Measured on a Mapp. 31
17. Live Your Viewsp. 33
18. Parents Are Foundations Not Wallsp. 35
19. Make "Should" and "Want" the Same Thingp. 37
20. Adjustments Never Endp. 39
21. Express Your Lovep. 41
22. The Bright Side Shines Throughp. 43
23. Forgiveness Depends on More Than the Apologyp. 45
24. Fatigue Is a Family Enemyp. 47
25. Jealousy Is Automaticp. 49
26. Encourage Persistence Not Desperationp. 51
27. It's Better to Be Fair Than Rightp. 53
28. Every Number Has Challengesp. 55
29. Think of Your Family When You Don't Have Top. 57
30. Don't Let Negativity Buildp. 59
31. Recognize Pleasant Stressp. 61
32. There's No Price Tag on Family Lifep. 63
33. Calm Questions Get Answersp. 65
34. Family Life Teaches Us About Relationshipsp. 67
35. What You See Isn't Always Therep. 69
36. Don't Enter a Generational Competitionp. 71
37. Expectations Must Fit the Personp. 73
38. Don't Obsess over Birth Orderp. 75
39. Show Up on Timep. 77
40. Communication Brings Us Closerp. 79
41. Every Person Is in a Different Relationshipp. 81
42. Satisfaction Depends on Where You Lookp. 83
43. It's Not a Popularity Contestp. 85
44. Cherish Traditionsp. 87
45. Work on Your Own Termsp. 89
46. Encourage, but Don't Require, Activitiesp. 91
47. Caregiving Is Personalp. 93
48. You Can't Be the Family Gatekeeperp. 95
49. It Doesn't Matter Who Earns the Moneyp. 97
50. All Talk Is Not Equalp. 99
51. What You Send Out Comes Back to Youp. 101
52. The Next Generation Will Define Family for Itselfp. 103
53. Share Your Strugglesp. 105
54. Beware of Clothing Disastersp. 107
55. Competition Breeds Lossp. 109
56. Do One Thing at a Timep. 111
57. You Will See the Same Things Differentlyp. 113
58. Strictness Can Last a Lifetimep. 115
59. The In-Laws Are Not the Enemyp. 117
60. Share the Houseworkp. 119
61. Write Down Your Thoughtsp. 121
62. Pets Are Family Toop. 123
63. Take Comfort from Routinesp. 125
64. Tempers Must Be Controlledp. 127
65. Illness Can Have Multiple Victimsp. 129
66. Not Every Piece Will Fitp. 131
67. Use Food Positivelyp. 133
68. Self-Doubt Magnifies Family Problemsp. 135
69. Children Need More Than Parentsp. 137
70. Rigidity Isolatesp. 139
71. The More You Give, the More You Will Believe in Yourselfp. 141
72. Don't Stay Together at All Costsp. 143
73. Too Much Protection Is a Threatp. 145
74. Experience Helps but Shouldn't Dictatep. 147
75. Low Expectations Are Not a Family Solutionp. 149
76. Emotions Last Longer Than Eventsp. 151
77. Even the Dependent Need Some Independencep. 153
78. Another View Is a Strength, Not a Weaknessp. 155
79. Distress Is Contagiousp. 157
80. Family Affects All Aspects of Our Livesp. 159
81. Generations to Come Make Us Feel Young Againp. 161
82. Everybody Must Contribute to the Work of Family Lifep. 163
83. Be Realp. 165
84. The Young and Old Want the Same Thingp. 167
85. It Will Be a Family of the Worldp. 169
86. The Most Important Inheritance Is Lovep. 171
87. Disagree with Each Other, Not Against Each Otherp. 173
88. Don't Do Everything Togetherp. 175
89. Beware of Television Extremesp. 177
90. See the Big Picturep. 179
91. Give Yourself--Nothing Else Really Mattersp. 181
92. It's Somewhere Between Easy and Impossiblep. 183
93. Everything Is Relativep. 185
94. Make What's Real into What's Idealp. 187
95. It's Always a Choicep. 189
96. Everyone Is Equal but Differentp. 191
97. Continuep. 193
98. We Seek Warmthp. 195
99. Can You Do It? Ask Yourselfp. 197
100. You Make Your Familyp. 199
Sourcesp. 201