‘A Call for Conscious, Sustainable Hedonism’ – LSE Review of Books

LSE Review of Books header
This post was originally published on the LSE Review of Books on 9th November 2022.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Orsolya Lelkes introduces her book, Sustainable Hedonism: A Thriving Life That Does Not Cost the Earth, which explores a vision of the good life that is both enjoyable and at the same time does not harm others and the planet. 

Sustainable Hedonism: A Thriving Life That Does Not Cost the Earth. Orsolya Lelkes. Bristol University Press. 2021.


Book cover for review of Sustainable Hedonism

Sustainable Hedonism: A Thriving Life That Does Not Cost the Earth was my freedom project. As a researcher and policy analyst, working in the Ministry of Finance in Hungary and then in a UN-affiliated social research institute in Vienna, my spirited ambition to make a difference in social policies gradually drained. Not only did I not manage to make a significant contribution to fairer policies (just look at Hungary now), I did not really enjoy much of the research I was doing. I was following other people’s (policymakers and research funders’) agendas, rather than creating my own. I was mostly reacting, rather than acting. And to be honest, I was often bored re-reading my work.

What if I gave myself complete freedom in writing? What if I wrote about a topic I felt passionate about? A topic that was timely and relevant for others as well? What if I wrote something I enjoyed reading? But what is this something? I took a few steps back, gave space to myself and looked at things with a broader perspective. I listened to my inner voice, and listened to the voices of thought-provoking scientists, changemakers and rebels.

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Sustainable Hedonism: Not an oxymoron

Originally published on the Behavioural Public Policy Blog of Cambridge University Press, 13th June 2022

Sustainable Hedonism: Strategy for a fair and joyful life

Humanity does not live in a socially just and environmentally safe space: there is no country where basic social safety is achieved and where the use of resources remains under the ecological ceiling if we also take into consideration activities it has outsourced to other countries. We need to converge into a fair consumption space, which implies more consumption for those with unmet basic human needs, and less consumption for those who surpassed the environmental maxima.My primary concern is the latter, from a personal motivational perspective. Why would anybody want to consume less if it is seen as a loss of quality of life, or ultimately, happiness? Why would anyone want to become a minimalist in the world of maximisers?

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After COVID-19: A time for conscious hedonism?

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Originally published by Bristol University Press on their Transforming Society blog.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a sense of loss of control, and for many people it has been a painful experience. Our routines, lifestyle choices and all that we have so far taken for granted have suddenly been shattered and questioned. The world around us has shrunk, and existing structures have crumbled. Can it become a chance for a conscious readjustment of our lives?

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