Advertisement

Well-Being, Happiness and Sustainability

  • Bengt BrüldeEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Happiness Studies Book Series book series (HAPS)

Abstract

We know that climate change will most likely have detrimental effects on the well-being of future generations, but here the focus is on how the well-being of present people might be affected if we decide to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to a more sustainable level. The central question is how a more sustainable lifestyle would (most likely) affect our well-being, but I am also concerned with whether it is possible for us to live lives that are both good and sustainable. It is assumed that well-being can be understood in terms of happiness, and that these questions can be specified in these terms. There are several considerations that might give cause for “optimism” in this area, many of which are inspired by findings in empirical happiness studies. I critically examine seven such considerations, e.g. the idea that reduced consumption would not make us less happy, that the most happiness-inducing activities require little use of energy, and that shorter working hours is beneficial both from a sustainability perspective and from a happiness perspective. The conclusion is that most of these considerations are invalid, and that most people would probably be less happy if they lived more sustainable lives, at least in the short run. (We might adapt hedonically to such lifestyles over time, however.) This suggests that we should not appeal to people’s self-interest if we want to get them to live more sustainably. Instead, we should appeal to the interest of future generations and the world’s poor.

Keywords

Climate change Consumption Happiness Hedonic adaptation Materialism Sustainability Well-being 

References

  1. Argyle, M. (2001). The psychology of happiness (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Beavan, C. (2009). No impact man. New York: Farrar.Google Scholar
  3. Brown, K. W., & Kasser, T. (2005). Are psychological and ecological well-being compatible? The role of values, mindfulness, and lifestyle. Social Indicators Research, 74, 349–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brülde, B. (2007a). Happiness and the good life: Introduction and conceptual framework. Journal of Happiness Studies, 8, 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brülde, B. (2007b). Happiness theories of the good life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 8, 15–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brülde, B. (2009). Lyckans och lidandets etik. [The Ethics of Happiness and Suffering] Stockholm: Thales.Google Scholar
  7. Brülde, B,. & Fors, F,. (2012). Kan man köpa lycka för pengar? Om konsumtion och lycka. [Can money buy happiness? On consumption and happiness] Konsumtionsrapporten 2012. University of Gothenburg: School of Business, Economics and Law.Google Scholar
  8. Brülde, B., & Fors, F,. (2013). Är lyckan grön? [Is happiness green?] Ekonomisk debatt 41: 1-9.Google Scholar
  9. Clark, A. W., Diener, Ed, Georgellis, Y., & Lucas, R. E. (2008). Lags and leads in life satisfaction: A test of the baseline hypothesis. The Economic Journal, 118, 222–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cummins, R. A. (2000). Personal income and subjective well-being: A review. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1, 133–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dunn, E. W., Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2008). Spending money on others promotes happiness. Science, 319, 1687–1688.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Easterlin, R. A. (1974). Does economic growth improve the human lot? Some empirical evidence. In A. Paul, P. A. David, & W. R. Melvin (Eds.), Nations and households in economic growth: essays in honor of moses abramowitz. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  13. Fors, F., & Brülde, B. (2011). Välbefinnande och livstillfredsställelse i dagens Sverige [Well-being and life satisfaction in contemporary Sweden]. In S. Holmberg, L. Weibull, & H. Oscarsson (Eds.), Lycksalighetens ö. Göteborgs universitet: SOM-institutet.Google Scholar
  14. Frederick, S., & Loewenstein, G. (1999). Hedonic adaptation. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology (pp. 302–329). New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  15. Frey, B. S. (2008). Happiness; A revolution in economics. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hedenus, F. (2011). Method for estimation of the family’s greenhouse gas emissions. A Report prepared for “One tonne life project”. http://onetonnelife.se/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/One-Tonne-Life-Method-Report.pdf. Accessed 29 September 2013.
  17. Hedenus, F., & Björck, A,. (2011). One tonne life final report. http://onetonnelife.com/files/2011/07/OTL_final-report_eng_screen_0630_.pdf. Accessed 29 September 2013.
  18. Hellevik, O. (2003). Economy, values and happiness in Norway. Journal of Happiness Studies, 4, 243–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Holmberg, J., Jörgen, L., Jonas, N., Sebastian, Sand,. & David, A. (2011). Klimatomställningen och det goda livet [Climate policy and the good life]. Stockholm: Naturvårdsverket, rapport 6458.Google Scholar
  20. Kahneman, D., & Deaton, A. (2010). High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 107, 16489–16493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kasser, T., & Sheldon, K. M. (2009). Time affluence as a path toward personal happiness and ethical business practice: Empirical evidence from four studies. Journal of Business Ethics, 84, 243–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Layard, R. (2005). Happiness: Lessons from a new science. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  23. Nisbet, E. K., Zelenski, J. M., & Murphy, S. A. (2009). The nature relatedness scale: Linking individuals’ connection with nature to environmental concern and behavior. Environment and Behavior, 41, 715–740.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nisbet, E. K., Zelenski, J. M., & Murphy, S. A. (2011). Happiness is in our nature: Exploring nature relatedness as a contributor to subjective well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12, 303–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pan, A., Sun, Q., Bernstein, A. M., Schulze, M. B., Manson, J. E., Stampfer, M. J., et al. (2012). Red meat consumption and mortality: Results from 2 prospective cohort studies. Archives of Internal Medicine, 172, 555–563.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Patterson, L., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2012). Consuming happiness. In P. Brey, A. Briggle, & E. Spence (Eds.), The good life in a technological age (pp. 147–156). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Rogelj, J., Hare, W., Lowe, J., van Vuuren, D. P., Riahi, K., Matthews, B., et al. (2011). Emission pathways consistent with a 2 °C global temperature limit. Nature Climate Change, 1, 413–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Stevenson, B., & Wolfers, J. (2008). Economic growth and subjective well-being: Reassessing the Easterlin paradox. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 39, 1–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sumner, L. W. (1996). Welfare, happiness, and ethics. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  30. Tatzel, M. (2003). The art of buying: Coming to terms with money and materialism. Journal of Happiness Studies, 4, 405–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Van Boven, Leaf, & Gilovich, Thomas. (2003). To do or to have? That is the question. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 1193–1202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. World Database of Happiness. (2013a). Findings on happiness and current parental status, collection correlational findings, subject section C3.2. http://worlddatabaseofhappiness.eur.nl. Accessed 25 January 2013.
  33. World Database of Happiness. (2013b). Findings on happiness and pets, collection correlational findings, subject section P14. http://worlddatabaseofhappiness.eur.nl. Accessed 25 January 2013.
  34. World Bank. (2012). Turn down the heat: Why a 4 °C warmer world must be avoided.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of ScienceUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

Personalised recommendations