Bringing Sustainable Happiness to Life
By Catherine O'Brien • November 17, 2013
Abstract. The growing recognition that happiness and well-being are intertwined with sustainability is leading to new opportunities for enhancing happiness and well-being, sustainably. The education sector has a critical role in advancing this work but has been slow to incorporate sustainability education and applications of positive psychology. The concept of sustainable happiness (happiness that contributes to individual, community and/or global well-being without exploiting other people, the environment or future generations) (O’Brien, 2010a) offers an innovative perspective to re-invigorate sustainability education and shape priorities for 21st century learning – contributing to resilient, sustainable happiness and well-being for all.
Children growing up in North America over the last ten years are being immersed in a culture that is enthralled with happiness. From happy shampoos to happy pet food, commercial products are being associated with happiness. Coca Cola’s “happiness truck” and Cadbury’s campaign to capture the sounds of joy in New Zealand are capitalizing on the popular buzz about happiness. Thousands of books, magazines, blogs and talks shows discuss the secrets to happiness, building on the research from positive psychology and happiness studies. Beyond the pop culture, happiness research has attained sufficient credibility for many governments to acknowledge that happiness and well-being should be considered in the formulation of national policies (CIW, 2009; Helliwell et al, 2012; Stiglitz et al, 2009).