The Science of Happiness: Fun Summer Activities to Boost Family Wellbeing

As the summer holiday season approaches, it's the perfect time for families to come together and create lasting memories. But did you know that engaging in specific activities can go beyond just fun and actually boost your family's wellbeing? Read on to find out more.


Tamara Judge

8/1/20233 min read


As the summer holiday season approaches, it's the perfect time for families to come together and create lasting memories. But did you know that engaging in specific activities can go beyond just fun and actually boost your family's wellbeing? In this article, we will explore evidence-based activities and games that can enhance happiness, strengthen family bonds, and promote positive emotions. By incorporating these scientifically proven strategies into your summer plans, you can create a joyful and fulfilling experience for the entire family that boosts resilience and contributes to sustainable wellbeing.

1. Gratitude Treasure Hunt:

Embark on a gratitude treasure hunt with your family, combining the power of gratitude and outdoor exploration. Before starting, provide each family member with a gratitude journal or a piece of paper and a pen. Set out on an adventure in your neighbourhood, a local park, or even in your own garden. As you explore, encourage everyone to search for things they are grateful for and write them down. It could be a beautiful flower, a friendly encounter with a neighbour, or simply the warmth of the sun. At the end of the treasure hunt, gather together and share your gratitude findings. This activity not only promotes a positive mindset but also strengthens family connections through shared appreciation (1).

2. Random Acts of Kindness Challenge:

Spread kindness and positivity with a ‘random acts of kindness’ challenge. Sit down as a family and brainstorm a list of kind gestures that you can perform throughout the summer. It could be as simple as leaving a thoughtful note for a neighbour, helping someone carry groceries or look after their garden, or donating to a local charity. Each week, select a few acts of kindness from your list and make them a priority. Encourage your children to actively participate and reflect on how these acts made them and others feel. Research has shown that engaging in acts of kindness not only improves our own happiness but also creates a ripple effect of positivity in our communities (2).

3. Mindful Nature Walks:

Take advantage of the beautiful summer weather and engage in mindful nature walks with your family. Find a nearby park, forest, or beach and embark on a leisurely stroll together. Encourage everyone to pay attention to their senses and fully immerse themselves in the present moment. Notice the sound of birds chirping, the scent of flowers, and the feeling of the sun on your skin. Encourage conversation about what each family member appreciates about nature and how it makes them feel. Research has shown that spending time in nature and practising mindfulness can reduce stress, boost mood, and enhance overall wellbeing (3).

4. Family Game Night:

Organise regular family game nights throughout the summer, creating opportunities for laughter, connection, and friendly competition. Gather a collection of board games, card games, or even outdoor games like frisbee or a scavenger hunt. Rotate who gets to choose the game each week, ensuring that everyone has a chance to participate. During game nights, put away distractions such as phones or tablets and fully engage in the fun and excitement. Playing games together as a family fosters bonding, communication, and a sense of belonging (4).

5. Happiness Jar:

Start a happiness jar that the whole family can contribute to throughout the summer. Find a clear jar and place it in a central location, such as the kitchen or living room. Provide colourful slips of paper and pens nearby. Encourage family members to write down something that makes them happy each day or as often as they like and place it in the jar. At the end of the summer, gather together and take turns reading the notes aloud. This simple activity cultivates positive emotions, highlights positive experiences, and fosters a sense of appreciation (5). (This could also be a gratitude jar.)


This summer, make the most of your family time by incorporating evidence-based activities that boost happiness, strengthen family bonds, and promote positive emotions. Engaging in gratitude treasure hunts, random acts of kindness challenges, mindful nature walks, family game nights, and maintaining a happiness jar can create a joyful and meaningful summer experience for your family. Remember, it's not just about the activities themselves, but also the quality time, laughter, and connection that you share. Embrace the science of happiness and create lasting memories that will nurture your family's wellbeing for years to come.


  1. Lashani, Z., Shaeiri, M. R., Asghari-Moghadam, M. A., & Golzari, M. (2012). Effect of gratitude strategies on positive affectivity, happiness and optimism. Iranian Journal of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology, 18, 164-166.

  1. Article: The Science of Kindness

  1. Owens M, (2022). Nature-Based Meditation, Rumination and Mental Wellbeing. Int J Environ Res Public Health. Jul 26;19(15):9118. PMID: 35897493; PMCID: PMC9332585.

  2. Wang, B., Taylor, L., & Sun, Q. (2018). Families that play together stay together: Investigating family bonding through video games. New Media & Society, 20(11), 4074–4094.

  3. Nabi, M. and Rizvi, T. (2017). Positive Emotions And Resilience As Predictors Of Flourishing In Women. Int. J. of Adv. Res. 5 (Nov). 143-151]