Nature Connectedness Offers a Path to Happiness and Environmental Sustainability, Says New Study

March 18, 2024 | by

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As the world grapples with unprecedented environmental challenges, a remarkable study emerges from Thailand, offering a unique solution to the pursuit of happiness in the 21st century.

A new study, published in Psychreg Journal of Psychology, presents a thought-provoking exploration of happiness from a utilitarian perspective, rooted in the profound connection between human well-being and nature.

The paper, published in Volume 7, Issue 2 of 2023, delves into the intricate relationship between human contentment and environmental health, offering a fresh approach to address Thailand’s critical environmental issues aligned with Sustainable Development Goals 13 (climate action) and 14 (life below water). Leelakulthanit’s research underscores the pivotal role of nature connectedness – a deep, emotional bond with the natural world – in fostering happiness and combating environmental crises.

The study challenges the traditional notion that success breeds happiness. Recent findings in psychology and neuroscience reveal that happiness, in fact, fuels success. Happier individuals exhibit better health, creativity, productivity, and resilience. This correlation extends to the workplace and personal relationships, reshaping our understanding of well-being in various life domains.

At the heart of the study is a utilitarian view of happiness – maximising pleasure and minimising pain. The study revisits the philosophy of John Stuart Mill, emphasising that actions leading to the greatest happiness for the most people are deemed morally right. This perspective forms the foundation of her approach to addressing environmental and societal challenges.

Thailand, like many nations, faces significant environmental challenges that directly impact its people’s quality of life. The study is particularly timely, as it aligns with Thailand’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The paper meticulously examines Thailand’s efforts to integrate Sustainable Development Goals into its national strategies, with a focus on reducing poverty, improving health and education, and fostering sustainable communities and cities.

The study posits that fostering a strong connection with nature can significantly mitigate environmental problems while enhancing individual happiness. She draws upon the biophilia hypothesis, which suggests an innate human tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. This connection is not merely an emotional luxury but a critical component of psychological well-being and pro-environmental behaviour.

The study acknowledges the influence of culture and early life experiences in shaping our relationship with nature. It advocates for integrating nature’s connectedness into children’s upbringing, recognising the lasting impact of early experiences on our affinity for the natural environment.


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