About this Research Topic
Happiness and wellbeing is a topic of great interest for the general public and academics alike. Everyone has the right to be happy, right? And why should we not be entitled to a life of health and wellbeing? As we approach the International Day of Happiness, it is prudent to ask whether the celebration of happiness belongs to years long past as society faces a multitude of challenges including loneliness, increasing burden of chronic disease, inequality and inequities, the threat of nuclear war and climate chaos. Is the pursuit of happiness and wellbeing in the face of such challenges now a goal of self-absorbed individualists? Should we now be focusing on the practical realities of survival during what some would argue to be probable societal collapse? Or are happiness and wellbeing worthy goals in and of themselves, goals that are aligned with opportunities to overcome such challenges? Debates over the extent to which we have missed the opportunity to change social, political and economic systems to better manage the expected climate-related disasters, lead to interesting questions over whether we are sufficiently prepared to cope with challenges that await us as individuals, communities and nations. In this regard, we are delighted to call for submissions to our research topic on happiness, wellbeing and the climate catastrophe.
Happiness and wellbeing are much debated and misunderstood concepts. In fact, definitions of happiness now expand beyond positive emotions, encompassing individual happiness, wellbeing of others, and sustainability of the planet. Social ecological models of wellbeing place the individual within the context of the communities and environments within which they live. But are these expanded definitions sufficient for achieving happiness and wellbeing in an era of the climate catastrophe? Recent findings suggest that spending time in nature has tremendous capacity to promote health and wellbeing. Yet, some would argue that it is ethically dubious to harness the power of nature to promote wellbeing while ignoring the looming climate catastrophe, the effects of which are already being realized, in some countries more than others. How do we manage the glaring inconsistency of promoting individual health and wellbeing through nature-based wellbeing interventions, while ignoring the impact of unrelenting business as usual, that is contributing to the unfolding climate catastrophe? Are individual, collective and planetary wellbeing incompatible or are there opportunities to promote wellbeing in such a way that combat the clear limitations of western neoliberalism? How might we provide individuals with the skills to confront business as usual on both individual and collective levels? And how might those opportunities be realized? Are there examples of best practice?
Contributions from a range of a subdisciplines would be welcomed including – but not limited – to climate psychology, environmental psychology, clinical psychology, social ecology, environmental theology and eco-philosophy. While we welcome articles that are broad in scope, it is essential that these are relevant to the research topic area. Submission of theoretical contributions is encouraged as is that of original articles that report on findings seeking to apply that theory. Especially relevant would be contributions relating to how we might prepare future clinicians of tomorrow to manage the expected rise of solastalgia, global dread and eco-anxiety, although it is expected that these articles would also reflect on opportunities to promote positive earth emotions such as active hope, empowerment and feelings of belonging, love and care. We would also welcome how these same climate-related emotions might be harnessed for individual and collective change.
Keywords: Emotions, Climate Psychology, Individual Wellbeing, Collective Wellbeing, Planetary Wellbeing, Eco-Anxiety, Eco-Psychology, Meaning, Purpose, Eco-Emotions
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.