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Motivating change towards sustainability : a case for ecologically sustainable happiness

Dunn, Carmel

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Despite the urgent need to become more sustainable, efforts to motivate transformational change towards sustainability have met with little success. This study explores the usefulness and viability of an alternate way of motivating change that utilises the human drive to achieve happiness and to avoid unhappiness - what I refer to as ‘the juggernaut of happiness’. This drive for happiness is, arguably, the main reason why people do the things they do. As such, it has significant...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorDunn, Carmel
dc.date.accessioned2017-08-17T06:01:55Z
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/124065
dc.description.abstractDespite the urgent need to become more sustainable, efforts to motivate transformational change towards sustainability have met with little success. This study explores the usefulness and viability of an alternate way of motivating change that utilises the human drive to achieve happiness and to avoid unhappiness - what I refer to as ‘the juggernaut of happiness’. This drive for happiness is, arguably, the main reason why people do the things they do. As such, it has significant implications for the success, or lack thereof, of our sustainability endeavours. This research uses pragmatic methodology to investigate whether it would be worthwhile and possible to use the juggernaut of happiness to motivate change towards sustainability at local levels in Australia. The theoretical value of using the juggernaut of happiness in sustainability endeavours is explored by analysing and synthesising existing information about happiness from the fields of philosophy, psychology and neurology. The practicability of harnessing the juggernaut of happiness for sustainability purposes is explored through the tool of local government strategic planning, one of the key ways that local governments in Australia engage with environmental and sustainability issues. The findings of this study have profound implications for the way we currently approach the issue of motivating change towards sustainability. Firstly, there is compelling evidence that the juggernaut of happiness is the most fundamental motivator of human behaviour. This means that almost everything people do is in the pursuit of happiness and the avoidance of unhappiness. This, then, affects the way people listen and respond to sustainability messages and education; it is instrumental in people’s adoption or disregard of sustainable behaviours; it applies equally to community decision-makers as to householders; and it is the grounds upon which people embrace or resist any sort of change. The second major finding of this study is that adopting ‘Ecologically Sustainable Happiness’ as the overall purpose of a Community Strategic Plan would likely increase the plan’s effectiveness in moving the community towards sustainability. This is because the concept of Ecologically Sustainable Happiness provides a powerful challenge to the existing consumerism/neo-liberal paradigm that has brought us to the real possibility of ecological and societal collapse. Furthermore, by having Ecologically Sustainable Happiness as the stated goal of a strategic plan, local council decisions would be simplified and made more transparent, and the community would be united by a single, nonnative goal. Not everyone in the community wants environmental protection, or economic growth, or social justice, or good governance but everyone is united in their desire for lasting happiness, which essentially means ecologically sustainable happiness. The conclusion of this study is that it would be highly beneficial to harness the juggernaut of happiness in endeavours to motivate transfonnational change towards sustainability - especially by adopting Ecologically Sustainable Happiness as the overall purpose of a Community Strategic Plan. Consequently, further research into governing for Ecologically Sustainable Happiness at local levels is warranted as this is likely to prove extremely helpful in our endeavours to beget a more sustainable world.
dc.language.isoen
dc.titleMotivating change towards sustainability : a case for ecologically sustainable happiness
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.contributor.supervisorvan Kerkhoff, Lorrae
dcterms.valid2015
local.description.notesdigitised by Document Supply.
local.type.degreeDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
dc.date.issued2015
local.contributor.affiliationFenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University
local.description.embargo2033-12-30
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