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UBCO prof offering prescription for children's happiness

A professor from UBC-O is leading the way in a new field of psychology that looks at how to increase happiness in both children and adults.
February 13, 2014 - 9:22 AM

KELOWNA – A professor from UBCO is leading the way in a new field of psychology that looks at how to increase happiness in both children and adults.

“If you ask adults what they want and what they want for their children, across five continents and across almost 40 countries, people say the same things – they want their children to be happy,” says Dr. Mark Holder, a professor of positive psychology who leads a research team that studies the science of happiness at UBCO.

“Until recently, science really hasn’t had an answer of what we can do to enhance happiness in children.”

Dr. Holder will give a lecture Tuesday night, sponsored by CATCH, that looks at exactly that.

“What I’m going to talk about tonight is not what’s wrong with you and how do we fix it, but what’s right with people and how do we promote it.”

The talk will focus on promoting happiness in children but also explores what adults can learn from children.

“There’s a lot of things right with children,” he says. “Children’s spirituality is strongly linked to their happiness and contributes to it.”

He says children are also not as affected by their financial situation as their grown-up counterparts, and their parent’s marital status has little impact on their happiness as well.

“I think it’s primarily for parents and educators, as well as people in general, who want to enhance their own happiness and the happiness of their loved ones.”

The talk will centre on a study that looked at the happiness of children from Western Canada, Northern India and Zambia.

“We’ve measured happiness in thousands of children now, as well as adolescents and adults,” he says. “Part of the goal is to determine what factors are associated with children’s happiness and to get a sense of what interventions we can put in place to support and enhance children’s well-being.”

Dr. Holder was born and raised in Vancouver, but currently teaches positive psychology at UBCO. He has been studying happiness in children and adults for the past nine years. He has a Ph.D in experimental psychology from Berkeley and has done post-Doctoral work in neuroscience at UCLA.

“People want more than simply getting rid of bad stuff,” he says. “If I take you and get rid of your depression, you’re not depressed but that doesn’t mean you’re happy.”

Dr. Holder will speak to a sold-out audience tonight at the Rotary Centre for the Arts starting at 7 p.m.

For those who haven't reserved tickets, here is a video produced by UBCO-TV.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at, call (250) 718-0428 or tweet @AdamProskiw.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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