The Dalai Lama once said, "Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from our own actions." If this is true, then we as parents must establish principles of action within our homes upon which the happiness of our family can be fostered and maintained. If we can live these principles of action and teach them to our children not only will the happiness increase within our homes, we will be giving our children the ability to grow happiness wherever they are planted.

Begin each day with prayer

When you begin your day with prayer as a family, you are creating a bond of togetherness and inviting goodness into your life. As you invite God's spirit to be a part of your day you will notice less contention among your children, more love for your neighbor, and less anger in your own heart.

Think positive

Happiness is a choice and a state of mind. I once met a paraplegic woman confined to a wheel chair who was probably the happiest person I have ever met. Why was she happy? Because she chose to be happy. If you want your family to be happy, it begins with you. Think happy thoughts and it will become contagious. Play the "Glad Game" as a family and name all the things that make you glad. Teach your children to see the good in every situation. Avoid negative talk and replace it with positive affirmations. When something negative is said, follow it up with 5 positive things. Thinking positive will lead to greater happiness.

Serve one another

When families serve each other, they increase their love for one another. You can't help loving those you serve. Also, you can't help feeling good about doing something kind for someone else. In our home, we have a glass jar sitting on the piano. When a family member serves another family member by helping with homework, sharing a toy, or giving a compliment, the child who does the service gets to put a glass rock in the jar. When the jar is filled, the family gets to do something fun together, like go to the zoo or the drive-in. It is a great opportunity for our children to serve one another without feeling forced. They do it on their own. You could also plan a service day where you serve a family outside of your home, or the community where you live. Increased happiness is a wonderful by-product of selfless service.

Forgive one another

Forgiveness is an important action that can change our lives forever. If we do not allow ourselves to forgive we become bitter, angry, and unable to open our hearts to love. Our children pick up on those traits and start exhibiting them, as well. If you want happiness in your home, you must learn to forgive. Teach your children to forgive, too. Everyone is human. Everyone makes mistakes. Give forgiveness freely, and you will find that forgiveness will be given back to you. Keep anger away and your home will be full of love and happiness.

Look for the best, forget the rest

Too often we focus so much on the aspects of our family members that frustrate us, we forget how much we love them and why. If you find yourself thinking negative, stop it. Replace those thoughts with things you love about the person and remember why you love them. Don't share negative thoughts or feelings about family members out loud where other family members can hear them. Rather than creating unity, this destroys families and creates rifts. Focus on the positive qualities of one another and help cultivate those qualities. Happiness will be easier to achieve.

Make family time each week

Set aside one evening each week where the family can be together. Play games, go to the park or watch a movie together. This will help create unity and friendship within the family. It will also help families address any difficulties that may have come up throughout the week. If families take one night a week and spend it together, they will find that some of their happiest times can come from these experiences.

Show love

Don't ever be afraid to express love for one another. A quick hug, an arm around the shoulder, or even a high-five are all great ways to show love for family members. Writing a quick note, sending a text, an email, or making a phone call are also ways to show you care. However you choose to do it make sure you do it often.

Learn to laugh

Learn to laugh at your mistakes and happiness will be easier to find. Learn to laugh in times of sadness, and happiness will never leave you. Laugh often. Laugh much. And teach your children to laugh with you.

The happiness of our home is truly dependent on us. If this list is overwhelming, break it down. Choose one action to do today, then gradually add the rest until you can do them all consistently. You will find that if you do, happiness will not only increase within the walls of your own home, but also within the walls of your own heart.

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