Participants are likely familiar with this. You could add your own experience and comments. We know that despite progress in many areas, that sustainability education has not been sufficient to shift our unsustainable trajectory.
Sustainability education is not incorporated into all teacher education and…
As this report suggested, we have the question to consider. Is education part of the problem or part of the solution? Sustainable happiness aims to be part of the solution.
In addition to our sustainability challenges, we have many health-related challenges. There are reports of increasing incidence of depression and anxiety. Also, earlier onset of depression with youth. Education can’t be the only response to this but we can explore opportunities for contributing to solutions.
Positive psychology evolved a little more than 10 years ago. Psychologist notes that the field had focussed primarily on mental illness and could benefit from investigating mental health by looking what helps us to flourish, what are the attributes of positive organizations, for example.
These are the kinds of questions that are being asked. Can we increase happiness looks at if you were to rate yourself with a 6 out of 10 in terms of your life satisfaction (one indicator of happiness), are there interventions or strategies that could help you to shift to a 7, 8, 9, or 10 and stay there? This is not to suggest that we all should be happy all of the day. In fact, the happiest people experience a full range of emotions. They don’t suppress emotions.
Ruut Veenhoven manages the World Data Base of Happiness in the Netherlands. This is one defintion that he uses. It is essentially referring to life satisfaction.
These slides provide some highlights of the links between happiness and well-being. The third bullet refers to the research that Richard Davidson did using MRIs to look objectively at what is happening in the brain when we are experiencing positive emotions. In a sample of about 175 people, he found that some people are happier than others but when he conducted the study with Buddhist monks they were “off the charts”. He wondered if this meant that happy people tend to become monks, or is it something about Buddhism, or is it the meditation? And if it is the meditation, does it take 10,000 hours of meditation to reach this level of happiness? He teamed up with Jon Kabat-Zinn, a mindfulness medication and stress reduction expert. A group of employees were trained in mindfulness meditation. Half hour a day, 5 days a week for 8 weeks. Even in this short time, using MRI imaging to confirm, there was a shift toward positive emotions, and the participants reported that they had that experience also. Given a flu shot, those that had made the greatest shift, also had the strongest immune response to the flu shot.
This slide pretty much speaks for itself. It is particularly useful information for public health professionals interested in health promotion.
This study was done in NS and was just published last year. Following people over 10 years, those who were happiest at the outset had reduced risk of heart disease. Positive emotions appear to be a protective factor.
Gratitude and appreciation are consistently found to be associated with happiness (in contrast to feeling disgruntled, feeling that we don’t have enough, or that we will be happy some time in the future when we retire, or when something else happens that we are wating for). Learned optimism is a cognitive strategy for refuting negative self-talk I.e. “I’m not good at…, or I’ll never be able too… Healthy relationships are key and understanding how to build and sustain healthy relationships can contribute to happiness. Most of us have had the experience of how challenging life is when we have a troubling relationship Meditation was already mentioned Exercise, of course, contributes to positive well-being Rick Foster and Greg Hicks created a happiness model that is now being used at the Mayo Clinic to explore its use with assisting cardiac patients to adhere to health regimens. I’ve used their model in my work and we teamed up to develop the course for UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health last year - merging their model with sustainable happiness.
Not as many studies specifically about happiness and the environment but the ones that we do have suggest the following:
Research out of Carleton University indicates that people who spend time in nature experience greater nature-relatedness and that this is associated with happiness, positive environmental values, and self-reports of sustainable behaviour
Ruut Veenhoven (mentioned earler re. The World Data Base on Happiness) conducted a study looking at the health and happiness research and this is one of his conclusions.
I repeat the significant sentence from the quote and suggest the implications noted in the slide
Since happiness is not explicitly taught in the formal education system but it is something we learn through non-formal education and informal education (media, life experience) we could ask the questions on this slide. Looking at informal education we can see some of the views of happiness that are presented…
Referring to Louv’s work and the high levels of screen time
One of the effects of this kind of socialization is referred to as social comparison and it can be a detriment to happiness. First, we see the dog on the left. I call her Fifi and note all of the wonderful things about her house - made with care, has windows, a soft pillow (you could invite people to tell you this too). She might be very happy with her house until Fido moves next door. He has flowers and plants, his name on the house and he even looks happier (though this could also be because he is outside and we know that is associated with happiness). But Fifi might think that she needs a house like Fido and hers now feels shabby. We do this all the time, comparing ourselves with others - their house, their car, their hair style and clothes, etc.
This person likely feels pretty pleased with their vehicle until…
This car pulls up beside them. The point is that there will always be someone who has something bigger, better, newer, etc
Advertising agencies have picked up on the happiness research and it is infiltrating ads and product names… I like to add this disclaimer because we know from the happiness research that the positive mood from purchasing material things is not enduring in the way that relationships, volunteering, being engaged with one’s work is with respect to enduring life satisfaction.
BMW’s new campaign.
Coca cola’s add about their happiness truck. It pulls up in a village in the Philippines. When people push the “push” button bottles of coke come out, or plastic flowers, or a skate board, stuffed animals, etc. People are shown to line up and are happy and excited about these free gifts from coke.
Martin Seligman, a positive psychologist, coined the term “authentic happiness” and research suggests that these are the kinds of things that contribute to authentic happiness
In a consumer-oriented society, many people live as if money will buy happiness. The happiness research suggests that this is not the case. In country after country we find that once individuals meet their basic needs, and a little more for financial security, then increasing income does not correspond with a significant increase in levels of happiness.
A very simplified equation that sums up what we see from the happiness research is… (you may want to remind folks about the initial quotation re. Consumption, sustainability and education. It seems that overconsumption is neither the path to sustainability nor to happiness.
See Workshop notes for this activity
For the most part, positive psychologists and researchers of happiness studies have not been making the link to sustainability. Conversely, sustainability literature was not making the link to happiness studies. I created the concept of sustainable happiness to reinforce the association; to be a counterpoint to the default education of the media that is socializing us to pursue happiness without considering the ramifications for our own well-being, the well-being of others, and the natural environment.
This is my current definition
Comment on the fair trade coffee. If we consider the recommendations of happiness studies alone, we are encouraged to savour the moments such as drinking coffee, to be mindful. And that’s good advice. Sustainable happiness takes this further and suggests that our happiness should not be at the expense of others and the natural environment. So let’s enjoy the coffee, tea, etc but if it is fair trade coffee then we leave a different kind of happiness footprint. We know the same is true for all of our purchases and lifestyle decisions. If our clothes have been made in a sweatshop then our delight in the new sweater or shirt is at the expense of someone else and is not an example of sustainable happiness. The joy of riding a bicycle, walking to work or school is an example of sustainable happiness.
This chart represents the survey I did with students who took my sustainable happiness course two years ago. The first offering of the course was online to 32 students. Sometimes when people think of an online course they think of distance education. This online course is interactive with lots of group activities. My impression during the course was that it had been transformative and that most of the students had shifted toward more sustainable lifestyles and had incorporated lessons from sustainable happiness. I surveyed them a year later and asked how many had engaged in these activities prior to the course and what they were doing now.
16 of the 32 students responded and all of them had shifted their behaviour and sustained it. The apparently small increase in public transit reflects the fact that the university is located between two communities and everyone drives. Public transit service is weak - once an hour and no service on Sundays. We see that all 16 are working at reducing their consumption of nonrenewable resources. Local products refers to striving to purchase local products. Below that is the box showing that they are checking where products are made - thinking about human rights and distance transported. Further research is needed to see if a sustainable happiness course can lead to more sustainable lifestyles in the broader population but these results are encouraging.
The Natural Highs activity is explained in the workshop notes.
The wonder, joy, delight and connection that children express when they walk to school is an example of sustainable happiness.
This child’s poster demonstrates that she had made the connection and she had never been told about sustainable happiness!
I’m involved in a pan-Canadian project with the title above. Working with Green Communities Canada and U of T, as well as provincial and territorial partners, we are rolling out School Travel Planning across the country - working with communities, school boards and districts, municipal staff, educators, etc to explore opportunities for increasing active school travel. One of my roles in the project is to bring sustainable happiness to educators so I developed an education resource that links sustainable happiness and active, healthy lifestyles with the health education outcomes for each province.
The following slides demonstrate some of the worksheets. If you have enough copies of the booklet, you could hand it around. Otherwise, you could comment on the slides to point out the links to sustainable happiness.
I was contacted by a teacher from Crestview Elementary who was very excited about the resource. He and his principal arranged a full day professional development on the Sustainable Happiness and Health Teacher’s Guide. You met them through the webinar I think.
Sustainable Happiness and Health Education Catherine O’Brien, PhD School of Graduate and Professional Studies Education Department, Cape Breton University
UN Decade for Education and SD <ul><li>“ There can be few more pressing and critical goals for the future of humankind than to ensure steady improvement in the quality of life for this and future generations, in a way that respects our common heritage - the planet we live on… </li></ul><ul><li>UN Decade of Education and Sustainable Development, 2005-2014 </li></ul>
UN Decade for Education and SD <ul><li>… .Education for sustainable development is a life-wide and lifelong endeavour which challenges individuals, institutions and societies to view tomorrow as a day that belongs to us all, or it will not belong to anyone.” </li></ul><ul><li>UN Decade of Education and Sustainable Development, 2005-2014 </li></ul>
Sustainability and Education <ul><li>“ At current levels of unsustainable practice and over consumption it could be concluded that education is part of the problem. If education is the solution then it requires a deeper critique and a broader vision for the future.” </li></ul><ul><li>UNESCO, 2005, p. 59 </li></ul>
Mental Health and Well-Being <ul><ul><li>It is estimated that 10-20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder - the single most disabling group of disorders worldwide. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Today, approximately 5% of male youth and 12% of female youth, age 12 to 19, have experienced a major depressive episode. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The total number of 12-19 year olds in Canada at risk for developing depression is a staggering 3.2 million. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Canadian Mental Health Association </li></ul></ul>
Research on Happiness <ul><li>New field of positive psychology </li></ul><ul><li>Study of positive emotions, positive traits and positive institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on wellness and what help us to flourish </li></ul>
Research on Happiness <ul><li>What can we learn from happy people? </li></ul><ul><li>Can we increase happiness? </li></ul><ul><li>Can we teach happiness? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the benefits of happiness? </li></ul>
Research on Happiness <ul><li>“ Happiness is the overall appreciation of one’s life-as-a-whole, in short, how much one likes the life one lives.” </li></ul>Veenhoven (2006)
Happiness and Health <ul><li>Happiness is a good indicator of health and longevity </li></ul><ul><li>Positive well-being is also related to faster recovery from surgery </li></ul><ul><li>Meditation, happiness and immune system </li></ul><ul><li>Seligman, M. (2002) Authentic happiness </li></ul><ul><li>Davidson, Positive Affective Styles: Perspective From Affective Neuroscience </li></ul>
Happiness and Health <ul><li>Happy people tend to seek out and act on health information </li></ul><ul><li>Positive mood has been shown to lower blood pressure </li></ul><ul><li>Ed Diener and Martin Seligman, “Beyond Money” </li></ul>
Happiness and Health <ul><li>Happiness has been associated with reduced risk of heart disease </li></ul><ul><li>Karina W. Davidson, Elizabeth Mostofsky and William Whang. Don't worry, be happy: </li></ul><ul><li>positive affect and reduced 10-year incident coronary heart disease: </li></ul><ul><li>The Canadian Nova Scotia Health Survey. European Heart Journal, Feb 17, 2010 </li></ul>
Happiness and Health <ul><li>Happiness skills can be taught </li></ul><ul><li>Seligman, M. “Can Happiness be Taught?” </li></ul>
Happiness and Environment <ul><li>Happy people tend to be less materialistic </li></ul><ul><li>More empathetic </li></ul><ul><li>T. Kasser (2004) Materialism and its alternatives, in A Life Worth Living: Contributions to Positive Psychology </li></ul>
Happiness and Environment <ul><li>More likely to engage in ecologically beneficial behaviour (cycling, recycling) </li></ul><ul><li>Nature-relatedness linked to positive emotions and happiness </li></ul><ul><li>T. Kasser (2004) Materialism and its alternatives, in A Life Worth Living: Contributions to Positive Psychology </li></ul><ul><li>Nisbet, Zelenski, and Murphy. The Nature Relatedness Scale: Linking Individuals’ Connection with Nature, Environmental Concern, and Well-being </li></ul>
Happiness and Health <ul><li>“ This finding that happiness adds to health opens new ways for health promotion, preventive public health care in particular. It implies that we can make people healthier by making them happier.” </li></ul><ul><li>Veenhoven, R. (2006) Healthy happiness: Effects of happiness </li></ul><ul><li>on physical health and the consequences for preventive health care, </li></ul><ul><li>of Happiness Studies , 15-11,p.6. </li></ul>
Happiness and Health <ul><li>We can make people healthier </li></ul><ul><li>by making them happier. </li></ul><ul><li>Many implications for </li></ul><ul><li>students, teachers and schools! </li></ul>
Happiness and Health <ul><li>We can make people healthier by making them happier. </li></ul><ul><li>Who/What is teaching us about happiness? </li></ul><ul><li>What are we learning? </li></ul>
Authentic Happiness <ul><li>Relationships with family and friends </li></ul><ul><li>“ Being” in the moment </li></ul><ul><li>Feeling engaged with our work, or other commitments (family, volunteer, etc) </li></ul><ul><li>Leading a meaningful life </li></ul>
Research on Happiness <ul><li>Can Money Buy Happiness? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Material wealth beyond a basic income level doesn’t contribute significantly to well-being and life satisfaction. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ed Diener and Martin Seligman, “Beyond Money: Toward an Economy of Well-Being”, Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 2004. </li></ul>
Sustainable Happiness <ul><li>Positive psychology and sustainability </li></ul><ul><li>Individuals may be pursuing happiness without awareness of ramifications </li></ul><ul><li>Our pursuit of happiness is changing the world - not always for the better </li></ul><ul><li>Brings in concept of interconnection </li></ul>
Sustainable Happiness <ul><li> “ Sustainable happiness is happiness that contributes to individual, community and/or global well-being and does not exploit other people, the environment or future generations.” (O’Brien) </li></ul>
Day-to-Day Sustainable Happiness <ul><li>Choices related to what we eat and drink </li></ul><ul><li>How we transport ourselves </li></ul><ul><li>What we wear </li></ul><ul><li>How we relate to one another </li></ul>
Sustainable Happiness Survey Activity Before Course Carpooling 5 Water Conservation 8 Expressing Appreciation 7 Composting 12 Fair Trade Products 7 Walking for short trips 12 Physical Exercise 12 Public Transit 2 Local Products 8 Where Products are Made 6 Reducing Consumption 8
Sustainable Happiness Survey Activity Before Course One Year Later Carpooling 5 9 Water Conservation 8 12 Expressing Appreciation 7 16 Composting 12 13 Fair Trade Products 7 10 Walking for short trips 12 13 Physical Exercise 12 14 Public Transit 2 4 Local Products 8 14 Where Products are Made 6 13 Reducing Consumption 8 16
Natural Highs <ul><li>7. Hugs. </li></ul><ul><li>8. The first snow fall. </li></ul><ul><li>9. Playing in the ocean. </li></ul><ul><li>10. The smell of lilacs. </li></ul><ul><li>11. Hearing my favourite song. </li></ul><ul><li>12. An unexpected text message. </li></ul>1.
Natural Highs <ul><li>1. The cold side of the pillow. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Laughing so hard your face hurts. </li></ul><ul><li>3. A hot shower. </li></ul><ul><li>4. No lines at the supermarket. </li></ul><ul><li>5. A special glance. </li></ul><ul><li>6. Watching my daughter sleep. </li></ul>1.
Sustainable Happiness <ul><li>Walking, cycling, active commuting </li></ul>
Sustainable Happiness! Source: From the "Active and Safe Routes to School Manitoba Clean Air Day Poster Design Competition 2009,” Resource Conservation Manitoba
Children’s Mobility, Health & Happiness: A Canadian School Travel Planning Model <ul><li>School Travel Planning in every province and territory </li></ul><ul><li>Influencing municipal and school board/district policy and practice </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainable happiness and health </li></ul>
Sustainable Happiness and Health Education <ul><ul><li>Developed educational resource for K-6 that links sustainable happiness, with healthy, active lifestyles. </li></ul></ul>
Crestview, Manitoba <ul><li>"This resource is exactly what we have been looking for as it effectively and efficiently ties together a variety of sustainability concepts under one common theme. Your opening quote in the document 'Sustainable Happiness' summed up our efforts at Crestview School in such a ...simple and concise manner." </li></ul><ul><li>Kyle Lizotte, Grade 5 teacher, Manitoba </li></ul>