Are We Happy Yet?

The following are extracts from two essays taken from: 

'Echopsychology - Restoring the Earth Healing the Mind' edited by Theodore Roszak, Mary E Gomes, and Allen D Kanner  - published in 1995.

1. 'Are We Happy Yet?' by Alan Thein Durning 

'Every psychology has a theory of what makes people happy. Ecopsychology raises the following question: is human happiness inevitably in conflict with the needs of the planet? Or are there sources of satisfaction that flourish in harmony with the natural world? In recent decades in the developed world, people have sought happiness in an increasing array of consumer products. This has had a devastating impact on the Earth. In fact, it is widely agreed that consumerism is one of the central roots of the environmental crisis, rivalled only by population growth.' (p.68)

'The future of life on Earth depends on whether the richest fifth of the world's people, having fully met their material needs, can turn to non-material sources of fulfilment; whether those who have defined the tangible goals of world development can now craft a new way of life at once simpler and more satisfying.

In the final analysis, accepting and living by sufficiency rather than excess offers a return to what is, culturally speaking, the human home: to the ancient order of family, community, good work, and good life; to a reverence for skill, creativity, and creation: to a daily cadence slow enough to let us watch the sunset and stroll by the water's edge; to communities worth spending a lifetime in; and to local places pregnant with the memories of generations.' (p.76)

2. 'The All-Consuming Self'' by Allen D. Kanner and Mary E. Gomes

'It is common for ecopsychologists whose work includes long wilderness trips or intense urban restoration projects to report dramatic dramatic break-throughs that shake individuals to their core. When the natural world reawakens in every fibre of our being the primal knowledge of connection and graces us with a few moments of sheer awe, it can shatter the hubris and isolation so necessary to narcissistic defences. Once this has happened, ongoing contact with nature can keep these insights alive and provide the motivation necessary for continued change. It is these experiences that will ultimately fill the empty self and heal the existential loneliness so endemic to our times. (p.91)