December 15, 2021

Integrating individual well-being with environmental systems

How cultivating a values-based, ecological worldview can help lay the groundwork for collective action toward the greater well-being of individuals, societies, and the systems in which we live.

2 min read

In the context of market economies and the fragmented societies they often yield, well-being can seem like an individual pursuit. Yet as the articles in this series, “Centered Self: The Connection Between Inner Well-being and Social Change” have articulated, we are coming to understand this is not the case. Supporting the inner well-being of change makers can boost capacity for innovation and collaboration. Encouraging organizational well-being can enhance staff resilience and lead to more effective solutions to social and environmental challenges. Recognizing and processing intergenerational trauma can foster individual and community health. And expanding our definition of economic growth to include collective well-being and environmental sustainability can support widespread, systems-level change. Indeed, we cannot conveniently compartmentalize ourselves in an interlinked world, nor can we bifurcate our social, political, and economic systems from the larger environments in which they exist.

The teachings of peacemakers such as Martin Luther King Jr., who famously said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” encapsulate this understanding. Taking this insight a step further, we can see that it expresses an ecological sensibility, as writer and speaker Drew Dellinger discerns in King’s philosophy. “Is it possible,” Dellinger asks, “that recovering the ecological and cosmological dimensions of King’s vision could help inspire our present work to link issues, connect ecology and social justice, and build a culture with a viable future?”

This is an excerpt from the article Integrating Individual Well-Being With Environmental Systems by Randall Amster and Linda Bell Grdina.


This article is a part of a special series on the connection between inner well-being and social change, in partnership with The Wellbeing ProjectStanford Social Innovation ReviewSchwab Foundation at the World Economic Forum, and Skoll Foundation.

We want IDR to be as much yours as it is ours. Tell us what you want to read.
Stanford Social Innovation Review-Image
Stanford Social Innovation Review

Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) is published by the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University. It seeks to advance, educate, and inspire the field of social innovation by seeking out, cultivating, and disseminating the best in research- and practice-based knowledge. SSIR informs and inspires millions of social change leaders from around the world and from all sectors of society—nonprofits, business, and government.