Exploring The Ecology of Happiness. Like Positive Psychology, But For Sustainability

The Need for #ecohappy “Positive Ecology”-Approaches

When the threat is as clear as environmental destruction and climate change seem to the eco-alarmed… the aspirational may be all the more necessary, not just the alarm bells.

The Darkness

Scientific disciplines like ecology have had to document how things that have been working – the diversity of life on Earth, our climate system, the productivity of ecosystems – have been changed and threatened by human diversity.

Of course they took on a negative, scared, warning tone.

Environmentalists and the like don’t usually see much of a need to suggest positive sides of changes. Like a doctor who diagnosed their patient with a heart condition that will become fatal unless the patient changes their lifestyle, the threat looms just too large.

When the threat may be the collapse of human civilization, the future of humanity – how could anyone just brush it off lightly?

The Need to Ignore the Danger

But of course, we can ignore dire predictions. In fact, it could be argued that we have to.

We will all die at some point; we are the species that is aware of that – and we have to avoid the thought before it incapacitates us.

We still have to make a living, go on living, go through our day-to-day, after all.

As we are in a situation where things are not entirely clear, but positions become ever more entrenched in the extremes, things become all the worse.

Change Won’t Be Easy…

We know that changes in lifestyles will be hard. They will definitely be uncomfortable; isn’t change always?

And we don’t know about the end of civilization (which is just too big a thing to really wrap one’s head around).

It all makes it just too easy to absolve ourselves of responsibility – and how would you take responsibility for the fate of humanity while others aren’t exactly looking like they are all that concerned? While you would fall behind in the here-and-now if you changed what you do?

It is all hard.

Change – and the changes needed now – are and will all be hard, as well.

They will remain hard even if we imbue them with an awareness of the positive sides they could have.

… But We Need Change

It is still all too rare to hear anything about the potential and the positive sides of our need for change, though – and they may be the motivational and aspirational perspectives that the climate movement, sustainability, ecology all need.

Like psychology that has always been focused on finding out what was wrong until the idea of positive psychology came up, ‘ecology’ could also use a greater consideration of the positive sides.

Positive Questions

What do we stand to gain from living more in tune with the Earth system?

Isn’t the progress we have been seeing imbued with so much bullshit, we could stand to find better ways of making a living?

How could we create, and profit from, cities that work more like forests?

If we are ecosystems ourselves, in terms of our bodies and minds, aren’t there ways to create synergies between what we eat, how that is produced, and the effect that will have on our wellbeing?

Once we start looking at things also in this regard, there are opportunities galore.


There are opportunities for individual changes, for different political approaches, for regions and for entrepreneurs.

There are opportunities even to change economies, not towards a degrowth that sounds scary and threatening, but towards a new growth that is restorative and constructive.

It won’t magically convince everyone.

In fact, this perspective is still a hard one. But, if economics can be convincing and impactful by focusing on growth and supposed progress involved in that, why shouldn’t an ecological perspective profit from a look towards “multiply desirable” solutions that will be truly progressive, good for us as individuals and collectively, for the present and for the future?

In fact, how could that necessary point of view ever have been overlooked?

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