The Good Life

Positive psychology and what makes life worth living.

Happy Family Day!

Ways to celebrate the good life know no national boundaries.

You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them. - Desmond Tutu

I love Canadians, and I love Canada. Here is just one of many reasons. On the third Monday of February (that's today, dear readers), Family Day is observed in the provinces of Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. Family Day celebrates the importance of families and family life to people and their communities. Businesses and schools are closed, and many people have a day off from work.

Canadians who celebrate Family Day take part in activities that involve the whole family, like watching a movie, playing a board game, or skating. Art galleries or museums may offer reduced entry fees or waive them altogether. Some folks may use the three-day weekend to visit family members elsewhere. Given the cold weather, hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies are commonly enjoyed.

On the same day, Canadians also celebrate Heritage Day and reflect not only on national heritage but also the personal heritage of their family.

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I have often said that positive psychology should not just be an export business with ideas moving from the United States elsewhere. It should also be an import business*. Ways to recognize, celebrate, and encourage the good life know no national boundaries, and Canada's Family Day deserves international acclaim and application.

 

* Along these lines, South Korea recognizes May as the month of the family, with a Children's Day as well as a Parents' Day, which commemorates the efforts of parents in raising children who are physically, psychologically, and socially strong. Makes more sense to me than the separate Mother's Day and Father's Day celebrated in the United States. The United States apparently has a Parents' Day as well, the fourth Sunday of every July, but it seems not to be on the national radar screen.

Christopher Peterson was professor of psychology at the University of Michigan.

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