By integrating happiness science and research, we seek to promote multiple pathways toward a happy, healthy and sustainable world. With open hearts and open minds, we empower communities to create loving relationships within themselves, with each other, the Earth, and all life.
What is sustainability through happiness?
Although the factors that contribute to happiness differ between individuals, places and cultures, people tend to experience happiness in similar ways (Brooks, 2008). Happiness is often influenced by: family and social connection, economic success, education, freedom of choice, stable governmental, health and standard of living (GHI, 2015). In recognizing how happiness corresponds to one’s environment and ability to meet one’s needs, we can also use happiness as a metric for sustainability. Like sustainability, happiness can be enhanced through initiatives that contribute to individual, community and global well-being without negatively-impacting people, the environment or future generations (O’Brien, 2013).
The connection between sustainability and happiness becomes even more apparent when we consider the economic, environmental and social challenges humans face today. Population growth, pollution, environmental degradation and an ever-increasing demand for resources have resulted in a need for changes in the way we live, work and grow – happiness is a potential tool to transform our future. Acting as a shared desire, happiness can facilitate the engagement of different parties in the process of identifying goals and prioritizing responses (Cloutier and Pfeiffer, 2015). Furthermore, because sustainability and happiness share many of the same values and goals, improving one can also better the other (Zidansek 2007). Happiness is a tool we can use to move ourselves toward sustainability (Musikanski, Polley, Cloutier, Berejnoi, and Colbert, 2017). Therefore, it’s not only about maximizing happiness within the individual, but about aligning this happiness with sustainability outcomes. Choosing activities that reinforce our biological reward systems can serve as solutions to many sustainability challenges (Cloutier, 2015, In Pursuit of Happiness).
Our Guiding Frameworks and Methods
- Sustainability through Happiness Framework (Cloutier and Pfeiffer, 2015)
- Sustainability Neighborhoods for Happiness Index (Cloutier, Jambeck and Scott, 2014)
- Assets Based Community Development (Kretzmann and McKnight, 1996)
- Brooks, A.C. Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters for America—and How We Can Get More of It (2008). New York: Basic Books.
- Cloutier, Scott and Deirde Pfeiffer. (2015). Sustainability through Happiness: A Framework for Sustainable Development from Sustainable Development,23(5).
- Gross National Happiness (GHI). (2015). Centre For Bhutan Studies and GNH Research. http://www.grossnationalhappiness.com/
- O’Brien, Catherine. (2013). Happiness and Sustainability Together at Last! Sustainable
Happiness from Canadian journal of Education, 36(4).
- Zidansek, A. (2007). Sustainable Development and Happiness in Nations Energy, 32, 891-897.
- Kretzman, J., & McKnight, J.P. (1996). Assets-based community development. National Civic Review, 85(4), 23-29.