By reading this book I was hoping to add to my understanding of what makes me 'well'. Like Vernon, I would rather not use the word 'happy', because happiness has come to mean the 'feeling' of happiness, rather than the overall underlying contentment which is better described by the word 'wellbeing'.
The problem with searching for happiness as good feelings is that life takes on a hedonistic chase for highs, which are usually extrinsically sought. Lows inevitably follow highs when normal life is not satisfying and lacking in meaning. Vernon describes how emotional wellbeing results from well doing. He talks, in depth, about spirituality and transcendence and how they contribute to wellbeing. I have to confess that I sometimes found it hard to follow all of his explorations of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Neitzsche and so on and this is my point.
It is only relatively recently that I have really questioned what I ned to feel emotional wellbeing. It is a question that I never really explored in school, at university or with friends and family.
Experience as well as learning has led me to understand that my emotional well being derives from well doing. I like to enjoy my life and I want others to enjoy it too. This is why I have become an Environmentalist and a liver of a materially simple life. I try to enjoy my life without compromising the ability of others to enjoy theirs. In fact I love helping others discover how to enjoy theirs.
An exploration of what brings physical and emotional wellbeing should be at the heart of, not just education for sustainability, but also education in general. We need to think moe about what we want our children to grow up to be. Do we want them to be ultra competitive, materialist, hedonistic consumers, or do we want them to feel that their lives have real meaning, contributing to the common good and so on?
The designers of curriculum should put these questions at the heart of what they do. Books like Mark Vernon's are useful places to start.