If pushed for the ultimate point of economic growth I imagine many politicians and economists would arrive at improving life conditions, things such as people’s opportunities, education and income, for their ultimate wellbeing and happiness – see happiness economics and the UNs World Happiness Report. A recent paper highlights the role our relationship with nature has to play in our happiness.
The article considers nature connection and happiness through summarising 30 previous studies with 8000+ people, therefore providing an important piece of evidence for those promoting the need to connect people with nature – owing to the benefits for both nature’s and human well-being (e.g. a Nature and Wellbeing Act).
Previous individual studies have shown that a connection to nature is associated with life satisfaction, vitality, meaningfulness and happiness. Capaldi and colleagues bring such work together for further combined analysis and confirm that the wellbeing benefits of a connection to nature are similar to established factors such as personal income and education. Importantly, in the wider context, the authors conclude that the results provide evidence that a happy and sustainable future are compatible.
So where next? As the benefits of nature connection become clearer there is a need to identify the activities that can improve people’s connection to nature.
Capaldi CA, Dopko RL and Zelenski JM (2014) The relationship between nature connectedness and happiness: a meta-analysis. Front. Psychol. 5:976. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00976