“What does happiness and the environment have to do with one another,” you may ask. According to research presented at the recent American Psychological Association convention the two are closely linked. Dr. Miriam Tatzel, who presented the research, explained that –
For decades, consumerism has been on a collision course with the environment, with consumer appetites draining the planet of natural resources and accelerating global warming.
One view is that we need to change consumption in order to save the planet. But what if we approached it from the other way around? What if what’s good for the consumer meets what’s good for the environment?
She went on to then present 6 fundamentals for an authentically happy life, that just so happen to also benefit the environment. As you read, consider the fundamentals through the lens of choice theory. If you are a teacher, think about how students could be exposed to these ideas.
1. Cultivate your talents
Cultivate what you are good at. If you’re not sure what that is, seek to discover it. (This is something that teachers can help students with – not in a tracking, stratifying way – but as a journey of discovery.) Develop your talent, as it will be very need-satisfying whenever you are engaged in this activity. Be reminded, though, that there may be little chance of this talent earning you money.
2. Be thrifty
Buy less stuff and you don’t have to earn so much money. Borrowing money weighs us down and creates an emotional burden that outweighs the supposed benefits.
3. Seek out experiences
If you have a choice between buying experiences and buying stuff, choose experiences.
Experiences stay in our memories forever and usually they are shared with others.
(What do you think about #3? Another view is that experiences come into our lives, but then fly away like the wind. Stuff we buy, like furniture or landscaping or cars, is what lasts. Can choice theory help us with this one?)
4. Work on your relationships
Bingo. Bullseye. Home run. Nuff said!
5. Accept yourself
As we were reminded in the last blog post, working on the relationship we have with ourselves is time well spent. Being comfortable with who we are hugely contributes to our positive mental health.
(I think this is an area in which religion too often hurts rather than helps. The picture of God as stern, exacting, arbitrary, and punishing is very damaging, and very inaccurate. The first two chapters in the Bible describe a perfect, sinless world; the last two chapters in the Bible also talk about a perfect world; all the chapters in between describe God’s efforts to win us back, to redeem us, and to restore us, at incredible cost to Himself. He loves and accepts us, and He yearns for us to do the same with ourselves, and with each other.)
6. Find freedom and independence
The research indicates that freedom and independence tap into our deepest human desires. Whether at home, work, or play, we’ve got to find freedom in our lives. With its clear explanation of internal control psychology, maybe this is one of choice theory’s most important contributions.
Dr. Tatzel concluded with –
A society in which some people are idolized for being fabulously rich sets a standard of success that is unattainable and leads us to try to approach it by working more and spending more. Cooling the consumption-driven economy and consuming less is better for the environment and better for humans, too.
This research is a good reminder that –
What’s good for the planet is good for our personal happiness;
what’s good for our happiness is good for the planet.
* This post is based on a PSYBLOG article at http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/08/6-rules-for-a-happy-life-and-healthier-environment.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PsychologyBlog+%28PsyBlog%29
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