There are volumes of scientific research on how to increase your happiness, but one little thing can have a surprisingly positive impact on your life’s everyday joy factor: going out to eat. And—bonus!—that little joy booster also makes a great homeschool project.
Here’s one way it might work: Spend a little time researching international cuisine options in your part of the world. (You may be surprised to discover there are more of them than you thought!) Sit down with your kids and start a list of places you’d like to check out, then hit the library to find books set in the countries whose food you’ll be exploring. (For instance, you might read Anila’s Journey in the weeks leading up to a meal at an Indian restaurant, or check out What Elephants Know to get ready for a Nepalese feast.) At the restaurant, be brave and order a variety of dishes—ask your waiter for recommendations, and encourage everyone to try a little of everything. Follow up your dinner out with another trip to the library—this time to the cookbooks section, where you can check out a book to help you recreate some of your favorite flavors from your dinner out back at home. This combo gives you maximum joy: You get the fun of going out to dinner, plus the pleasure of anticipation and the opportunity to savor it when it’s over.