The Secrets of Happy Families

The Secrets of Happy Families

The book that revolutionized our view of what makes families happy . . .

Determined to find the smartest solutions and the most cutting-edge research about families, bestselling author andNew York Times family columnist Bruce Feiler gathered team-building exercises and problem-solving techniques from the most creative minds—from Silicon Valley to the Green Berets—and tested these ideas with his wife and kids. The result is a lively, original look at how we can create stronger parent/child relationships, manage the chaos of our lives, teach our kids values and grit, and have more fun together.

The Secrets of Happy Families includes more than two hundred unique practices that will help your family draw closer and make everyone in your home happier. It has already changed the lives of millions of families, and it can do the same for yours.

Purchase a copy, download the Happy Families Toolkit, and learn more at Bruce’s website.


  • As I read, I kept thinking that if every family could employ just one new strategy from this book, imagine the consequences! The ripple effect throughout the world would be phenomenal. I wholeheartedly embrace Feiler’s suggestions and plan to integrate some of his ideas in our family life. It’s sad that many of the parents who most desperately need this book may never take the time to read it.

  • The IE Mommy says:

    With a growing family of five and the constant challenges of different personalities sharing the same space, I was absolutely intrigued to hear what Feiler had to say in The Secrets of Happy Families! Who doesn’t want to know the secret?

    What I found was not at all what I expected. I almost felt like I was reading a book from one of my business classes in college. In fact, a large part of the “secrets” are based on business models that Feiler learned from the best in the business. While this is definitely a unique approach and one I have misgivings about, it worked for his family and others he worked with to develop his philosophies.

    There are many things he wrote that I thoroughly agreed with like having family dinners together, or at least finding a time whether it be dinner, breakfast or otherwise, where communication is encouraged. I really liked his family meetings that he arranged weekly and that his children were encouraged to speak openly and freely and share things they felt about their parents in a safe environment.

    While these and many other things made sense to me, I felt like the business approach as a whole was just too…businesslike for me! It sounds great in theory but I just couldn’t really get into all that he was saying. But I can’t knock it until I try it so I’m definitely willing to put into practice some of his suggestions. Not everything works for everyone and if I take away one thing from this book that changes the dynamic of my family, then it’s a success!

    The Secrets of Happy Families was an interesting read in many regards but a little too reminiscent of business classes in college for my taste!

  • The best parenting book I have ever read! Easy to read techniques with practical applications for real life. He hits on some of the most obvious but difficult areas in the home life (communication, adaptation,etc..). We have started implementing some of these techniques and are already starting to reap the benefits of better communication. A must read for parents!

  • Some things in The Secret to Happy Families will not surprise you and some will surprise you.

    Bruce Feiler has compiled a bevy of information that he believes will create a happy, bonded family.

    Recommended for families really struggling to find closeness and work together as a family unit.

  • This book contains a lot of great tips on making your family happy. I would recommend it to everyone.

  • Author Bruce Feiler is the kind of guy you’d like to invite over for dinner. The book is extremely down to earth, even with the statistics and research thrown in for good measure. In addition, it’s really helpful for providing meaningful advice to parents. The strategies in this book could even be used in the classroom, office, or another setting where people are expected to cooperate with each other.

  • Reading The Secrets of Happy Families has been a source of refreshment, as smiles on all of our faces reappear as we learn to work together to make this unit called family operate as it should.

    I think my biggest downfall is expecting a system or plan to work indefinitely. However, as the author brought to my attention, it’s not that the system or plan I created failed. It’s that it must be adaptable to the changes all families go through. I must be willing to update it to meet the family’s needs.

    Another thing brought to my attention is that we aren’t playing as a family enough. They ‘busies’ have beaten us down. It’s time to toss aside some of the activities that are stealing our precious play time.

  • We all want a happy family, right? If your family is struggling with time management issues, communication, or any number of things, then you might want to have a look at this book. There are some good and practical ideas in here, including job charts for the children, how to carve out family meal time, family meetings, etc., which are all good things. The author gives examples of various business models and how to modify them to work in the home.

    Overall, there are helpful tips to be gained from reading the book but as in any how-to manual, you take what you can personally use and discard the rest.

  • Feiler mentions novel concepts that weren’t around when we were kids like “Life Boating.” It is the modern way to make it through life now…a totally new concept for families although challenging. How we just jam in the lifeboat and try to stay alive paddling like crazy! Even more important, the author shares what it is that makes some families effective, resilient, functioning and just, well….happy. Isn’t that what we all want in the long run?

  • The Secrets of Happy Families is so full of great ideas and examples that I read a few pages (or paragraphs, in some instances) and then take a few days to mull over what I just read.

    Although I’ve not agreed with 100% of what Bruce Feiler presents and/or recommends, I can say that everything I’ve read has given me food for thought. And I am certain that applying even a few of his recommendations would really help ours be a happier family.

  • Bruce Feiler’s parenting book is unlike other parenting books that I have read. While other seem to be talking down to parents and giving you a step by step must follow guide for success, “The Secrets of Happy Families” book is the complete opposite. . . this new book by Bruce Feiler really is a must read for parents. I have since thrown out the other parenting books I would find myself going back to for advice, as this is truly the only book I need.

  • This book is educational, entertaining and thoroughly helpful. With 200 tidbits of advice for a Happy Family, this book is sure to give every reader some great ideas worth pondering and implementing. According to Feiler, even he has not put all 200 hints into practice, but rather each idea was presented in one book so readers could choose what would work best for their family.

  • If you’re looking for a well rounded book that covers a wide variety of topics on family, look no more! This book covers a wide scope of topics including children, allowances, money, intimacy, happiness, love, grandparents, marriage, sports, family vacations and so much more. I throughy enjoyed this book and would highly recommend this book to any family needing a boost or looiking for family ideas. I loved tis book!!!

  • I think the best way to describe this book is that it is a marriage, parenting, self-help book all rolled into one. In some ways, this book sacrifices depth for breadth, but for the most part, it was greatly appreciated because it dabbled in all different facets of family life. From allowances, to rearranging furniture in your house, to vacation scavenger hunts, and even tips for your sex life. I appreciated the extent to which Feiler researched various team-building techniques from all sorts of groups of people, like at ESPN to the Green Berets, from the 5 Love Languages to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families. It was a nice collection of best practices for ways to have fun and grow as a family.

  • I found The Secrets of Happy Families to be a really good book to help families stay together, have more family time together, and just be much happier than they are now. Though a lot of the things here doesn’t apply to my family because its just the two of us now, I could still find a few things that would help my husband and I spend more quality time together. This book is more for those families where both parents work, and have a number of kid running everywhere, in different places and times. For these families, this book has some very valuable tips, advice and ‘secrets’ that can help your family grow closer together. I like that Feiler takes some of the best plans out there for families, and puts them in perspective to show how they really work.

  • Genuine Jenn says:

    This is a must read book for families trying to keep connected. I find with our busy lifestyle that sometimes more than not I feel disconnected from my family. Making time to reconnect/connect each week with family meetings, involving your kids and hearing their voice is a must. Even at a young age you will be surprised on what they are thinking.

    Read the full review on my blog.

  • I’ll come out and say it…I didn’t find anything truly ground-breaking in this book. However, I will also say that I found it immensely readable and entertaining. In some ways, it reminds of A.J. Jacobs’ books–although I felt Feiler does a much better job of that “try anything and everything” style than Jacobs.

  • Feiler talked to experts in all sorts of areas where group dynamics are important, but avoided all the traditional “family experts” in his research. He then adapted what he was finding, and tried things with his family. This means that you are not going to read the ‘same old, same old’ advice, but you will hear fresh and unique ideas.

  • This is actually a much better, much more informative book that first glance allows. It is an invaluable tool for families whether you are all running five hundred different directions or whether you are a throw-back to “The Waltons.”

  • Prey Species says:

    This book is full of creative and inspirational ideas and comes complete with a crash course outline referred to as a toolkit for use by busy parents at the end of the book. The toolkit also serves as an excellent review and quick reference guide for implementation of several of the key ideas in the book. Some of the suggestions Felier offers may seem unusual or uncomfortable for some families to try, but the reported results are promising enough that this blogger is going to be keeping this book on her shelf for future reference. Well written and heavily researched this book promises to be an excellent read for those dedicated to creating and maintaining a happy family life!

  • I doubt anyone walks away putting this whole book into practice, but I do admit we’ve tried a few of the tricks along the way here at the Hill house with varying results. If you’re looking for an easy and fun non-fiction read with a few tips and tidbits on family life this book is for you. It won’t change your life or your family but it may provide a few great resources to get more out of the areas that you may be missing.

  • I really enjoyed this book beyond what I expected. While there was not a strong Christian view, you can apply almost all these ideas to a Christian home. I thought that the author writes in a very easy to read manner which kept my attention. I enjoyed all the statistics he included to back up what he was reporting.
    I would love to read more by Mr. Feiler in the future and I have already started applying many of the ideas from this book!!

  • Who doesn’t want a happy family? For those of us who are GenSandwichers, it seems like that is our primary focus. Or one of them… But how do we get there? Magazines promise tips and strategies. Library shelves are filled with books promoting different approaches. TV pundits offer their insights. Our pastors and religious leaders weigh in. But who really knows?

    In The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Tell Your Family History, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More , New York Times bestselling author Bruce Feiler has drawn up a blueprint for modern families — a new approach to family dynamics, inspired by cutting-edge techniques gathered from experts in the disciplines of science, business, sports, and the military.

  • The author tells you in simple easy to follow instructions how to reach your goal. He also writes a book that you should share with others who you may think need help in saving their family. This is a book that should be kept for reference.

  • The author has taken some of the best researched plans&ideas for happy family creating and show us proof that they work.

  • This is a very helpful book, especially for people who already have a family. I do plan on keeping this book and rereading it in the future for reference. The author brings together a number of different ways families can grow close throughout the years. I actually liked how he brought things in from different sources.

    It wasn’t necessarily a book solely focused upon Christian families but really for any family ready and willing to be transformed.

  • I wasn’t sure what to expect as I began the book, but I must say that Bruce put my fears to rest when in the introduction he stated “A collection like this is liberating, I believe, because it is obvious no one can attend to them all.” It took the pressure off…it was meant to be something where you could pick and choose what worked for you.

    It gave me a boost as I read to see that several of his suggestions are things that we already have in place in our household, but my book is all dog-eared with corners flipped down at sections that I want to be able to quickly reference, too.

    I really liked the format and approach of the book. I liked that not only did the author research the topics, but he implemented many of the ideas in his own family to test things out.

  • Fruitbearers says:

    Have you ever wished to be a fly on the wall of some seemingly happy families to learn their secrets? Well, this book helps you come close to that :). This book is a self-help book filled with interesting and innovative ideas. It offers practical solutions and tips that are helpful in family relationship (spouse, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, and in-laws).

  • If you’re looking for some practical ways to make your family happier that will work for TODAY’s family, I highly recommend reading this book. Bruce presents over 200 ideas that can be tools for your family. You don’t need them all, and that’s what makes this book doable. It’s not the 5 steps to a perfect family or the 12 steps to a healthy family life. It’s a toolbox that allows you to pull out the items that will work for your family and help you discover that you can do life with each other and actually enjoy each other’s company. Now there’s a novel thought.

  • Cara Putman says:

    What makes a family work? It’s a question I think about frequently. While each family is different, I love to find principles that I can apply to our unique dynamic. The Secrets of Happy Families is a fresh approach — taking business principles and transforming them for families in a dynamic way that has me eager to try adapting some techniques here. One I loved is having a family meeting once a week as a way to evaluate how the family is working. Also using dynamic flowcharts to let everyone see what needs to be done and the status of projects as well as the ability to see what’s been accomplished. This is a great resource for someone who wants to try some new techniques to ensure their family is actively engaged in improving. I don’t know about you, but we can always do better!

  • Moments says:

    There are three main sections of the book with well-defined chapters, so it is easy for the reader to jump around to the parts that are identified as high priority if one does not have the time to sit down and read straight through. However, the entire book is most definitely worth reading! I love the section on family dinners as this is such an important time for families and such a wonderful opportunity to discuss things and reflect upon the day and just a great time for a family to connect.

  • Each and every chapter is a breath of fresh air. No old fashioned ideas or stale thoughts printed in this book! I particularly enjoyed Part 1 as it’s designed to bring your family together. I’ve been using ideas galore this week and no one is the wiser, although my husband is in on the secrets.:) The Morning List is a tool that truly gets things accomplished (we used it!) and the ideas in The Right Way to Have Family Dinner has brought richness and life to our time together at the table. I really enjoyed reading The Secrets of Happy Families. I have so many new ideas that I can’t wait to incorporate into my family’s life. Being a parent can be exhausting and it’s unbelievably encouraging to have new tools to make life easier. Highly recommend!

  • In his new book The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Tell Your Family History, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More, BruceFeiler gives families a new toolbox. He examines techniques that have been successful for business and other groups and applies those to family dynamics. His book is full of practical suggestions, real-life examples, and suggestions about why these ideas actually work.

  • The Secrets Of Happy Families is a fascinating look into some of the cutting-edge ideas and solutions creative families are adapting to make their families a happier place to be.

    What’s most interesting about this book is that Bruce does not draw on conventional wisdom from traditional experts in this field.

    Instead, Bruce turns to unconventional sources, such as sport teams and the Green Berets, to come up with over 200 innovative ideas that will make your family a happier, healthier place to live!

    Once I started reading The Secrets Of Happy Families, I couldn’t put it down! Bruce’s writing style is engaging, enlightening, and often-times, humorous; the book itself is both anecdotal and informative.

    I love this book and highly recommend it to you!

  • Happy Four says:

    This book is applicable to any family who desires to live in harmony and with joy. What family doesn’t desire that, right? Bruce offers tips and tricks to bring harmony to the home. This book is written from an easy to read perspective and offers something for each family no matter the age of the children and stage of life. A valuable book that will be pulled off the shelf again and again.

  • I would recommend this amazing resource to every single parents or going to be parents. I immensely like how Bruce Feiler suggested to readers the importance of eating meal regularly together and how the research correlates to this. I loved how he recommended that families could play word of the day games at dinner time, have autobiography night, pain points, word game night, and bad and good. These were great creative ideas to keep mealtime interesting and fun some nights. I especially like how he included a huge amount of research to back up his strong points throughout the entire book.

  • Highlights I thought were outstanding are the toolkit in the back to give suggestions on beginning ideas in this book, and especially having family time, one-on-one and together with chores and playing games. Giving continuity, beyond being individual, part of a family, connectedness.

  • If you are happy with yourself and your loved ones, especially God, then your home will be a happy one. There were a lot of things in this book that I never thought about before. I really liked the information about bonding during meal times. I recommend that every one tries a few of the unique practices. I am giving this book a 5/5. I was given a copy to review, however all opinions are my own.

  • The book was enjoyable from the point of view that the author does share personal stories and there is a lot of humor pulled into the book. There are some real grains of wisdom that can be applied to our families and I do think it’s always good to try and make our families happier. Our homes and families should definitely be a soft place to land for us all.

  • Tolstoy began Anna Karenina with the classic line, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Is that really true? Is there a common denominator to all happy families?

    In The Secrets of Happy Families, author Bruce Feiler interviewed experts from a variety of fields in team-building, finances, management, sports, conflict resolution and problem solving. They hailed from such diverse backgrounds as the Green Berets, Harvard Business School, Fortune 500 companies and Silicon Valley.

    Many of the issues raised in The Secrets of Happy Families arose from the author’s own family experiences. The result is a down-to-earth guide for families who want to be happy and are willing to put the hard work into making it happen.

  • Who doesn’t want a calmer morning or happier family times? Because of this I was excited to read this book as part of a Litfuse Blog Tour. Feiler interviewed families and experts to eek out tips that can make things run smoother for all of us. There are tons of tips here, not all of which any one family will likely use, but with a good mix so families can pick the ones they feel work for their own needs. I like that he doesn’t try to paint his family as perfect, but shows how they overcame some of their own hurtles with the strategies he learned in his research. It can feel like a slog to read a book where someone claims they have all the answers, and that is not the case here, Feiler shows by example what he saw and heard about and invites his readers to do what he or she needs to to find daily satisfaction.

  • The book teaches about families, no matter the dynamics. Whether you married, single, or divorced. kids or no kids. Christian, Atheist, or Catholic. No matter the type, families need to find happiness. I was hooked on the book during the first chapter.

  • Mozi Esmé says:

    I love the flexibility the author suggests. There are plenty of people who insist that regular family dinners will solve the majority of family issues we face today. But when we’ve tried that, it left me totally stressed with the preparation, husband was rarely home at the dictated time, and little picky Miss hardly ate anything. In “The Right Way to Have Family Dinner,” the author points out that the conversation is what’s important, not the time of day or what you eat. Maybe the family is together at breakfast time, or gets together for a dessert at 7pm. Maybe “family dinner” is a once-a-week affair or a routine pre-bedtime discussion with no food involved. The book gives plenty of examples, and for me it was like a light bulb turned on – yes, we can make some of these work for us!

  • It is so interesting to me how Bruce finds principles used elsewhere for other things and adapts them to the family. While he offers many different ideas, he states in the book, “My hope is that if you take just one idea from each chapter in this book, your family will be transformed in less than a week.”

    What I took away from this book was sort of a “toolbox” of ideas to try in my family. Some of the main themes I recall are flexibility, family time, and a feeling of belonging to something bigger than yourself.

    I highly recommend that if you have a family, you pick this book up and read it. Dog ear it, Post-It note it, highlight it, make lists from it, and implement the strategies that feel right for you and your family. I don’t think you will regret it!

  • As a mom of two elementary aged children, I have entered a new chapter in parenting, and it is filled with many great times but also challenges. I have moved past the parent books that deal with infants/toddlers and preschools and am now on the hunt for books that will encourage my husband and I in this new journey. One book recently that I discovered is The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler.

  • I greatly appreciate the author’s willingness to look outside expected realms to find solutions and “best practices” for families. Those “outside the box” perspectives reveal simple and practical advice that many of us may have seen, but never thought to apply within our homes. I have already implemented some of them and look forward to exploring more. THANKS!

  • If you are a parent, you need this book. It will help make you a better parent and make your family a better family. You will learn unique ways to help yourself help your children. It’s more than just learning how to have a happy family. It’s learning who you are and what makes your children who they are and using that to help your family as a whole. We are each different people and we need to know ourselves and our family members. I was definitely intrigued by the weekly family meetings part. My kids are all still pretty young(9 kids all 9 years old or younger) and I’m not sure how that would work. We also do not give ours kids an allowance yet, so that’s another part of the book I’m not sure what we’ll do with. But our kids do have chores and do work in our home.

  • Written in a charming, accessible style, The Secrets of Happy Families is smart, funny, and fresh, and will forever change how your family lives every day. If you have a family, want a family or know someone who has a family then this is the book for you or them!

  • The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler is an easy to read guide to having a happy family. I would suggest that the reader not take it as a step by step, know everything, follow to the last dot guide to raising children, but rather as a read to open your mind to other options.

  • After reading the intro I knew I would like this book. The author is a family man, he does his research and he’s got a good sense of humour. This book was the result of his goal to set out to find the best practices for family today. After reading the first chapter, I approached my husband and said, “I think we’ve got to try this.” He read the chapter and replied, “This is a good idea, let’s do it.” That chapter talks about a cutting edge program called “agile development” that companies are putting into practice with success. Feiler shows how this agile blueprint can be used for families. How cool is that?

  • It’s not often that I read a book and then place it on my shelf and write my name in it. I have so many books in my house that a book has to be something pretty special and out of the ordinary for me to think I’m going to keep it for an extended amount of time. After reading “The Secrets of Happy Families” by Bruce Feiler, my name is going in the front cover and there is a place waiting on my bookshelf for it to arrive. I am happy to report that this book is more like you and Feiler sitting down, laughing together, being honest together, and discussing this crazy thing called family life. Feiler will help you realize that you are not a failure, and there is hope for you – no matter what stage of family life you are at.

  • says:

    I really like the spectrum of information covered in this book. The obstacles of chaos, busy schedules, communication failures, relatives, etc. that keep us from creating a happy home and enjoying family life are often intertwined. Readers can improve their relationships with their kids, parents, spouses and siblings – just by reading this book. Family issues of disorganization, questions about children’s allowances, negotiating and communicating effectively – all of these things in part are related to one another. You’ll find solutions, and will look forward to creating a family mission statement, cherished memories, fun togetherness, and more.

  • I really didn’t know what to expect from this book, but I found the author’s style very interesting and the book filled with anecdotes and information. It made me smile, made me go ‘aha’ and made me want to consider many of the ideas he has shared.

  • Write a Review

     characters available