Integrated Well-being: Positive Psychology and the Natural World
Personality and Social Contexts
Place and Environment
In the web of life, we are all interconnected. This connectivity extends beyond the human domain and towards systems much larger than ourselves—the whole of the Earth’s species. As this paper illustrates, this connectivity with non-human life is innate, and deepening that connection to nature has positive influences on our well-being and optimal functioning, above and beyond the mere utilitarian value that our environment affords. Whether looking at nature through a window or being fully immersed, wild spaces are good for our mental and physical health, our likelihood to engage in ecological behaviors, and our personal and community resiliency and well-being. Initiatives that recognize the importance of wild spaces also build powerful, positive, sustainable communities. When positive psychology notions of well-being are more systems-based and nature-inclusive, we get a deeper and more holistic understanding of our own psychology. We are also better prepared for a world in which all of life—humans today and future generations, as well as plants, animals, and planetary processes—can flourish regeneratively. From an examination of the individual to a reflection of our interdependence with the whole of the world, positive psychology has the potential to unmask a complete picture of all it means to be alive and thriving.