Happiness and Sustainability Together at Last! Sustainable Happiness


  • Catherine O'Brien Cape Breton University


Sustainable happiness is “happiness that contributes to individual, community and/or global well-being without exploiting other people, the environment or future generations” (O’Brien, 2010a, n.p.). It underscores the interrelationship between human flourishing and ecological resilience. At the national and international levels, sustainable happiness has considerable relevance to the United Nations’ resolution on happiness and well-being (United Nations, 2011). Applications of sustainable happiness are discussed, with implications for fostering healthy, sustainable lifestyles and communities. The active debate about how to transform education to meet 21st-century learning needs ranges from suggestions that will merely tweak existing models through modernization, to calls for reimagining the role of education. As educators consider the future of
education and the various visions that are promoted—such as 21st-century learning, Health Promoting Schools programs, social and emotional learning, and entrepreneurship education—the concept of sustainable happiness can contribute to the development of a unified vision that fosters well-being for all, forever (Hopkins, 2013). The sustainable happiness
pre-service teacher education course described in this paper gives a glimpse of the benefits of doing so. The paper argues that sustainable happiness represents the evolution in happiness that is needed to set the world on a more sustainable trajectory. This makes sustainable happiness indispensable for new visions of education in the 21st century.
Keywords: sustainable happiness; well-being; sustainability; education; 21st-century

Author Biography

Catherine O'Brien, Cape Breton University

Associate Professor

Education Department




How to Cite

O’Brien, C. (2014). Happiness and Sustainability Together at Last! Sustainable Happiness. Canadian Journal of Education/Revue Canadienne De l’éducation, 36(4), 228. Retrieved from https://journals.sfu.ca/cje/index.php/cje-rce/article/view/1185