The reasons why we scuba dive are as unique as the people who enjoy the sport, but researchers have found that long-term well-being is a result of regular diving.
PADI is well known for its theory of the four E’s of diving: Education, Experience, Equipment and Environmental conservation. While investigating why we scuba dive, researchers Balvinder Kler and John Tribe identified four more E’s of scuba diving: Escape, Esteem, Expertise and Education.
They go further, though, to add “Eudaimonia” to that list. This Greek term roughly translates to “the good life,” “human flourishing” or “well-being.” It not only points to finding happiness and pleasure in life but doing so in a virtuous manner.
What diving does for us
The researchers found that divers derive long-term satisfaction and happiness as eudaimonia through participating in diving. A sense of well-being occurs when we improve our skills and virtues in activities that we are passionate about. As divers, we gain a sense of well-being through learning more about ourselves, others, diving and the underwater environment around us.
Diving offers a number of different avenues to further our education. It starts with learning to dive and continues with improving our skills after initial qualification. Diving offers access to a whole new environment and teaches us how to exist and be comfortable underwater. Most importantly, diving educates us about the wondrous and unique marine life we encounter.
Diving also offers us the opportunity to travel. This in itself is a way of expanding our knowledge and skills through new experiences and cultural emersion. Traveling often leads 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 environmentally sensitive behavior. Many divers share a sense of responsibility to advocate for and protect the environment, which extends further than just the underwater world.
Divers also experience personal growth through sharing experiences with other divers, strengthening bonds and something academics call “serious leisure.” This refers to leisure activities that encourage 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 participate.
Individuals can even get to a stage where a serious-leisure activity can become a central point of their life. They may begin to 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 our comfort zone. We also grow as families when we enjoy the sport together.
The researchers even found that the positive experiences, like learning and socializing, are so great that they often outweigh potential negative experiences, such as bad weather conditions and poor visibility.
Ultimately, we dive because diving offers us the opportunity to engage in positive experiences. It gives us satisfaction long after we return to the surface. In short, diving makes us happy and helps us flourish. Now, let’s get back into the water and dive some more.