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Hugs and happiness: One family's resolution to greet with love

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(Read caption) Hugs and happiness: one family's resolution to make coming home a special occasion, and to share their love for each other with warm greetings and farewells. In this March 8, 2012 photo, Alexis Lohse, right, hugs her daughter Emma Miller, 3, at their home in Fort Worth, Texas.

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One of the bedrock principles of my happiness project is that I can’t change anyone but myself. It’s so easy to imagine that I’d be happier if only other people would behave properly, but I can’t assign resolutions to anyone but myself.

I firmly believe this, yet I did decide to try something that runs completely contrary to this very sound Gretchen-only rule. I proposed a family resolution to give warm greetings and farewells.

When our two daughters were little, they’d greet me and my husband with wild enthusiasm whenever we walked in the door, and often cried miserably when we left. Nowadays, they sometimes barely looked up from their own games or homework or books when we walked in or out. It was a relief, in a way, but also a little sad. And too often, my husband and I didn’t give warm greetings or farewells, either.

I love my resolution to hug more, kiss more, touch more. It takes no extra time, energy, or money, and it makes a big difference in the atmosphere of my apartment. To build on that resolution, I wanted family members to feel acknowledged and welcomed, every time they walked through the door.

Over Sunday pancakes, I posed a question: “If you could make a resolution for everyone in the family, what would it be?”

My husband answered without hesitation. “I do whatever I want, while the rest of the family cleans up the apartment and runs errands.”

“That’s a thought,” I said drily. “Next?”

My older daughter said, “We’d have different things for breakfast during the week, like eggs, instead of just cereal or peanut butter on toast.”

“We could do that,” I said. “I didn’t know you wanted anything else.” Then I turned to my younger daughter. “Do you have a suggestion?”

“People would always give me a big hug and a big kiss every time they saw me. And I would go to State News to buy a toy whenever I want.”

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