CICERO - Center for International Climate Research
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Mindfulness and sustainability

Torgeir Ericson, BG Kjonstad, A Barstad

Ecosystems are under pressure due to high levels of material consumption. Subjective well-being sought through other means than material rewards could make an important contribution to sustainability. A wealth of research indicates that mindfulness contributes to subjective well-being by focusing the mind on the here and now, giving rise to stronger empathy and compassion, facilitating clarification of goals and values, and enabling people to avoid the “hedonic treadmill”. There is also a body of research that shows how subjective well-being, empathy, compassion, and non-materialistic/intrinsic values are associated with more sustainable behavior. Based on a review of the literature on these topics, we suggest that promoting mindfulness practice in schools, workplaces and elsewhere could be construed as a policy that pays a “double dividend” in that it could contribute both to more sustainable ways of life and to greater well-being.

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