BECAUSE it’s a place where you go to relax, exert energy, laugh, cry, stare beyond the horizon, breathe fresh air and be happy.
As a beach-cultural researcher at Griffith University, this led me to connecting the health of beaches and people’s wellbeing at the beach. In other words, I set out to discover what I call “the happiness of beaches”.
Since 1972 when the nation of Bhutan created the idea of Gross National Happiness, there has been increasing interest in researching happiness and wellbeing to measure human aspiration and social progress.
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More recently, in 2011 the United Nations passed a historic resolution to include happiness and wellbeing as a measure of countries’ productivity. This was the foundation for the United Nations Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Happiness and Wellbeing Guidelines.
Then in 2013, the first World Happiness Report outlined the science of happiness, a way to collect data to understand and integrate human aspiration and social progress to help guide public policy.
This has created a means to assess social capital in a happier way and to transform approaches to addressing issues that range from local to global. For example, approaching poverty and environmental issues with a “new compass” to grasp, envision and direct what is needed to achieve happy, sustainable lifestyles.
This started me thinking. If we can discover the happiness of countries, then surely we can measure the happiness of beaches.
We already know that beaches make people feel happy and we also know how to measure the health of beaches. What’s more, there are ‘beaches’ of research on coastal sustainability.
However, community wellbeing at the beach, beach health and coastal sustainability haven’t been linked as yet, and this represents a huge research gap that needs to be crossed in order to transform the way beaches are managed and to enhance community aspirations to care for them.
The happy news is that we have coined the idea of Beach Happiness at Griffith University to begin discovering the happiness of beaches.
[signoff icon=”icon-username”]Ms Naomi Edwards
Bachelor of Environmental Science and a Master of International and Community Development, Griffith University
Ms Naomi Edwards holds a Bachelor of Environmental Science and a Master of International and Community Development. She is involved in coastal community mobilisation and is a passionate advocate for Australia’s coast. Her current research is focused on beach happiness and coastal community knowledge with the School of Humanities, Griffith University.[/signoff]