The Good Life, Well-Being, and Nature

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALorraine Lander, Genesee Valley Center, Canandaigua Unit, SUNY Empire State College writes:

“The Good Life is something many of us strive to find. The Greeks called this idea eudamonia and defined it as being successful, having what is most desired, to flourish and to have a good guardian spirit. In many ways this concept captures the spirit of sustainability. Yet, where do our understandings of “the good life” come from and can conscious considerations alter those understandings? How do we define success? Is it measured by possessions? One aspect of studying this topic would be considering the role of consumerism and its connections to sustainability, as well as to well-being and happiness. Another aspect of study in this area is the role of voluntary simplicity, making conscious decisions to have less, which often means less consuming the resources of our planet and can lead to living more in harmony with nature.

“Psychologists who study the subdiscipline of positive psychology have examined the role of nature in happiness and well-being, confirming its importance. Many research studies support the role of nature in enhancing not just mood, but performance in school and work. What do they mean for the way we construct our schools, our places of work, our neighborhoods, and our cities? What do these findings mean for children growing up without exposure to nature or adults and children who have no access to natural surroundings?  These topics are also part of considering the role of nature in the good life.”

Below is a list of resources on this topic. Find a more complete list of resources with links for learning and teaching about this topic on our Pinterest site: Follow Sustainability’s board The Good Life, Well Being and Nature on Pinterest.


Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit, Al Gore

Loving and Leaving the Good Life (Good Life Series), Helen Nearing

State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability, The Worldwatch Institute

Web Resources

Winona LaDuke Lecture in Grand Rapids – YouTube

Minobimaatisiiwin – the good life, a TED talk by Winona LaDuke,  TEDxSitka –

Mino-bimaadiziwin: The Good Life

Gross National Happiness, by Carolyn Moynihan. Posted on Quality of life and sustainability measures of well-being require a debate on values. A site that “connects the dots between who we are, what we buy, where we live, what we make, what we trade, and how we live together to create positive impact”.

The Better Good Life: An Essay on Personal Sustainability. Posted on the website Experience Life

Anishinaabe Mino-Bimaadiziwin / The Way of a Good Life