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- Jun 2022
Embracing visions of a good life that go beyond those entailing high levels of material consumption is central to many pathways. Key drivers of the overexploitation of nature are the currently popular vision that a good life involves happiness generated through material consumption [leverage point 2] and the widely accepted notion that economic growth is the most important goal of society, with success based largely on income and demonstrated purchasing power (Brand & Wissen, 2012). However, as communities around the world show, a good quality of life can be achieved with significantly lower environmental impacts than is normal for many affluent social strata (Jackson, 2011; Røpke, 1999). Alternative relational conceptions of a good life with a lower material impact (i.e. those focusing on the quality and characteristics of human relationships, and harmonious relationships with non-human nature) might be promoted and sustained by political settings that provide the personal, material and social (interpersonal) conditions for a good life (such as infrastructure, access to health or anti-discrimination policies), while leaving to individuals the choice about their actual way of living (Jackson, 2011; Nussbaum, 2001, 2003). In particular, status or social recognition need not require high levels of consumption, even though in some societies, status is currently related to consumption (Røpke, 1999).
A redefinition of a good life that decouples it from materialism is critical to lowering carbon emissions. Practices such as open source Deep Humanity praxis focusing on inner transformation can play a significant role.