PADI is well known for their theory of the four “E”s of diving which include Education, Experience, Equipment and Environmental conservation. While investigating why divers dive, researchers Balvinder Kler and John Tribe also identified four “E”s: Escape, Esteem, Expertise and Education in scuba diving. They go further, though, to add Eudaimonia to that list. Eudaimonia is a Greek term that roughly translates to “the good life”, “human flourishing” or “well-being”. It not only points to finding happiness and pleasure in life, but doing this in a virtuous manner.
The researchers found that divers derive long-term satisfaction and happiness as eudaimonia through participating in diving activities. A sense of well-being occurs when we improve our skills and virtues in activities that we are passionate about. As divers we do this through leaning more about ourselves, others, diving and the environment around us- especially underwater- because we derive meaning from participating in diving activities.
Diving offer a number of different avenues to further our education. It starts with learning to dive, and continues with improving our skills after initial qualification. It opens up a whole new environment to learn about, how to exist and be comfortable under water and about the wondrous and unique marine life we encounter there. It also offers us the opportunity to travel – which in itself is a way of expanding our knowledge and skills through new experiences and cultural emersion. While traveling we are exposed to positive experiences which, according to the researchers, contributes to obtaining “the good life”.
Enthusiastic divers tend to become more environmentally aware and participate in more pro-environmental behaviour. There is a sense of responsibility to advocate for, and protect the environment which extends further than just that of the underwater world. They also experience personal growth through sharing experiences with other divers, strengthening bonds and something academics call “serious leisure’. This refers to leisure activities that encourages self-enrichment, self-expression, self-actualization, recreating or rediscovering yourself, creating social connections and a feeling of belonging. As in diving, these activities usually require special knowledge, skills and training in order to be a participant. Serious leisure specialists even go so far as stating that individuals can even get to a stage where a serious leisure activity can become a central point of that person’s life and that they strongly identify with that activity. And let’s be honest, how many of us choose travel destinations based on the quality or uniqueness of the diving or sneak in a quick dive on a business trip?
Furthermore, divers grow through the friendships we create with other divers. We create shared experiences, learn from each other and become comfortable with being outside of our comfort zone. We also grow as families as we come together around the sport.
The researchers even found that the positive experiences, like learning and socialising is so great that it often outweighs experiences that could be negative like bad weather conditions and poor visibility.
We dive because diving offer us the opportunity to engage in positive experiences that gives us satisfaction long after we return to the surface, it makes us happy and lets us flourish. Now, let’s get back into the water and do it some more!
* A version of this article first appeared at www.scubadiverlife.com