Small and Simple Ways to Celebrate Family History Month: Words to Live By


In the final installment of this four-part blog series for Family History Month, here’s one last way to weave the spirit of family history into present moments and experiences.    

All these ideas are small, simple, and somewhat indirect, but all of them have the potential to turn our hearts bit by bit to the treasured ancestors who paved the way for us.


Neill F. Marriott, “Yielding Our Hearts to God,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 31.   

Idea #4: Create a Family Motto.

Natalie and Chris Cottam, from Austin, Texas, selected a family motto when they were newlyweds, drawing on their strong LDS traditions. They chose “Men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25).   

Fifteen years and four children later, Natalie says, “This has absolutely been a guiding principle in our lives. It has helped us remember that even though the path is all over the place, the goal is happiness and joy.”   

The original motto is no longer on display in their home, but new mottos have arisen over the years, when the mood strikes.   

“We don’t choose it; it chooses us,” Natalie jokes. “But seriously, a new theme will just come to one of us, through a scripture, a quote or thought, a poster we see, or a song lyric. We have had years where we've taken input and tried to thoughtfully choose a new one, but usually it just comes to one of us and we roll with it.”   

Share the guiding principles of your family

Natalie displays the current family motto on posters or prints in their home, sometimes superimposed over a family photo. And she involves her children in setting personal and family goals that go along with the theme. Other Cottam family mottos have been:

  • I Think I’ll Just Be Happy Today  
  • Love One Another
  • Today is a Good Day
  • Hang on and Enjoy the Ride



Your Turn

Ponder the traditions passed on by your parents and grandparents, and write a personal or family motto that reflects the legacy you grew up with as well as the legacy you want to leave behind.    

Selecting words to live by is a useful exercise, no matter your age or circumstances in life. These words can reflect the guiding principles that have brought you to where you are now or that give you an aspirational path to follow throughout the twists and turns to come.   

Display your motto on the fridge, on a framed print or poster, embroidered on a pillow, or on a sticky note stuck to the bathroom mirror. Also post a photo of your motto to social media using hashtags #familystories and #familyhistory.  

Make it a Family History Moment

Don’t forget that you can post your most important stories and photos to FamilySearch, creating a visual and written account your life that goes far beyond events, dates, and official records. Sharing the story behind your personal or family motto is a great way to reflect the essence of who you are and what you believe. If your motto shifts throughout the years, post a photo or written account of each changing theme.   

To take it a step further, think back to the words of wisdom shared by your parents and grandparents, and post them on their FamilySearch profiles. They may not have chosen an official motto, but there may be sayings they were known for, quotes that hung in their home, or aphorisms they repeated often, like this gem from my own grandma: “If you can’t be grateful for the things you have, be grateful for the things you don’t want that you don’t have.”   

We invite you connect with FamilySearch on any of our official social media channels.

Print a frame for your family motto

Print a frame for your family motto

Print a frame for your family motto

Print a frame for your family motto