Policy Press

Sustainable Hedonism

A Thriving Life that Does Not Cost the Earth

By Orsolya Lelkes

Published

May 19, 2021

Page count

224 pages

ISBN

978-1529217988

Dimensions

234 x 156 mm

Imprint

Bristol University Press

Published

May 19, 2021

Page count

224 pages

ISBN

978-1529217971

Dimensions

234 x 156 mm

Imprint

Bristol University Press

Published

May 19, 2021

Page count

224 pages

ISBN

978-1529217995

Dimensions

Imprint

Bristol University Press

Published

May 19, 2021

Page count

224 pages

ISBN

978-1529217995

Dimensions

Imprint

Bristol University Press
Sustainable Hedonism

How can we create a thriving life for us all that doesn’t come at the price of ecological destruction?

This book calls to explore our collective and personal convictions about success and good life. It challenges the mainstream worldview, rooted in economics, that equates happiness with pleasure, and encourages greed, materialism, egoism and disconnection.

Drawing on science and ancient Greek philosophers the author details how we can cultivate our skills for enjoying life without harming ourselves or others, and can live an autonomous, creative and connected life. Complementary to our intellectual understanding, the experiential method of role play and theatre can powerfully facilitate the exploration of the inner drivers and hindrances of a thriving life.

"The book is an interdisciplinary masterpiece that, while it builds upon the schools of philosophy and research traditions related to sustainability, it also breaks with them, with its rather novel approach and unique methodology." András Báló, Journal of the Corvinus University, Budapest (English translation)

"We all want to be doing well in their lives, but are we going about it in the right way? In this impassioned book, Orsolya Lelkes argues that some of our desires and habits sabotage both our own quest for happiness and the well-being of society. However, change is possible, and can be reached by a better understanding of our relationships with ourselves and others. As we re-evaluate our priorities in a post-pandemic world, the message that sustainable well-being is attainable without consumerism will resonate with many.” Andrew Clark, Paris School of Economics

“This is a fascinating book, full of interesting ideas. It concludes, ‘This thriving life is a utopia that already lives with us … We already have the needed repertoire of tools for such a life.' This book is itself one of these tools.” Journal of Solution Focused Practices

“This book is to be recommended to those looking for an original academic answer to climate change, but also an inspiration to lead a happier life in resonance with others and the world.” Environmental Values

"Highly topical and timely. This work brings together key economic and philosophical literatures with a distinctive practical approach.” John Hills, London School of Economics and Political Science (1954-2020)

“Not only does the book bring together three strands (environmental, social, individual) but it also aims to do so in a novel and accessible way – not just outlining the theory, but also encouraging a process of self-reflection and experiential learning.” Sam Wren-Lewis, University of Nottingham

“Orsolya Lelkes’ in-depth exploration of the tensions between standard market economics, intense consumption-based growth, and the ecological crisis offers a highly original pathway to “a flourishing life”. Her recipe for a fairer, more fulfilled life rests on “benevolence, universalism, and self-direction”, values that are endorsed across the globe. Her ideas for progress advance both the survival of the planet and thriving communities, and thriving personal lives, which she calls “Sustainable Hedonism”.” Anne Power, London School of Economics

“Beyond the empty, sterile promises of consumerism, there is a place rich in meaningful engagement with ourselves, others and the more than human world. A rediscovery of our bodies – specifically in the form of theatre and role-play – provides a powerful channel for this re-awakening. This is the territory that Orsolya Lelkes so skilfully and powerfully explores, helping us to re-engage with the power of embodiment.” Jonathan Dawson, Schumacher College

Orsolya Lelkes is an independent scholar and psychological counsellor, former Deputy Director at the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research in Vienna and former Head of Economic Research at Hungarian Ministry of Finance. Her website can be found at https://lelkes.at/en/orsolya-lelkes/

Introduction: Is There Anyone Who Does Not Want to Thrive?

PART I: The Challenge

1 Unintended Consequences of Economics as a Science

2 The Narrative of Success in Capitalism, and Its Failures

PART II: What Is a Good Life?

3 Pleasure, Joy, Satisfaction, Purpose: Refining Our Quest for Happiness

4 Sustainable Hedonism

5 A Flourishing Life: Living Well and Doing Well

6 Values in an Era of Free Choice

PART III: How Do We Get There?

7 The Laboratory of the Flourishing Life: Serious Change Can Be Playful

8 Inner Agents and Saboteurs of the Good Life: Role Theory

Conclusions: Flourishing Life in the World