How living greener is proven to help us live happier
Did you know that living a more environmentally conscious life isn't simply a way to give back to our communities and help ensure a happy future for the generations to come?
Help out, cut back, use up, take part; however you live greener, scientists have shown that green actions repay the effort with some seriously good vibes...
Volunteer on a project that's near and dear to your heart and the researchers at Exeter Medical School predict that you'll experience better mental health and a jump in life satisfaction and self-esteem. Apparently volunteers were found to be less likely to be hospitalised, less likely to experience chronic pain and less likely to struggle with stress. Phew!
Find your nearest volunteer centre to see local opportunities to get stuck in, or why not go direct to these green charities to offer your time:
Cutting our commutes makes us happier on balance than moving to a fancier house, sending our children to better schools or bringing home a 30% larger salary, according to two Swiss economists. In fact, Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam has calculated that every 10 minutes of commuting results in 10% fewer social connections in our lives. Since social isolation is a known cause of unhappiness, on the flip side a greener working routine spells happier families, better social lives and fewer polluting cars on the road.
Feeling the pressure of a long commute? Maybe it's time to take action. Perhaps you could:
>> Move to within a short walk or cycling distance of your work
>> Arrange to work from home or a local coworking space
>> Find a new job closer to home
>> Go freelance or start a new venture from home
>> Ask for flexible working hours to shorten your commute or use public transport
>> Downsize your job to part time hours
Spend less on accumulating stuff to be happier, research from the University of California has shown. When we get caught up in 'keeping up with the Joneses' and buying ever bigger, ever shinier, we experience what's called "hedonic adaptation" – a pleasure that simply doesn't last.
Think of the last time you said, "to heck with it" and splurged on something you didn't really need in a shop; didn't you feel a rush of positive feelings at that moment? Yet in most cases, we get the thing home and quickly get used to our new possession... sometimes even forgetting we own it! By the next week or month we're back to where we started in terms of happiness – or even less happy as we now have less available money or credit so may feel greater insecurity.
When we avoid the lure of random 'stuff', we give ourselves the chance to reach a more satisfying, longer-lasting form of happiness. Instead we could use our money to:
>> Pay down worrisome debt
>> Invest in education and find a more interesting job or start a business
>> Enjoy more quality time with family and friends
>> Improve the efficiency and comfort of our homes
>> Move to a leafier area or for a shorter commute
>> Take a sabbatical from work or save for an earlier retirement