Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I've been thinking a lot about about the answer to one of the questions I gave on the Radio Free School blogs interview a couple weeks back.  Here's the question and answer:

"Going against the middle class/mainstream entrenched believe that to have a successful life you have to get higher ed can you define your idea of what success means?"

To me it's quite simple: success to me means nothing more or less than being happy. I find it pretty hard to comprehend how EVERYONE can not see this! Nothing really matters if you're not happy, or working toward finding a place in your life that brings you happiness.

Now, to me, happiness is a BIG word.  When I think of happiness, and of living a happy life, SO MANY things come to mind: sharing passions, following joy, becoming personally empowered through self and community reliance (versus reliance on only authority and experts), helping others become empowered through self and community reliance, being a part of a community...

Photo taken fall 2008

But of course, I made the mistake of using such a vague word, one that means many different things to many different people, and which doesn't encompass, for most people, all of the things that come to mind when I think of it!  When people read that original answer, from comments I got, I think many people interpreted it as being entirely....well, self-centered.  As missing all the bits about simply being a good person.  To me, all that was packed into the word "happy": all my dreams and goals and hopes.  As social creatures, humans generally love being  good people.  I feel great happiness when I know I've helped someone, or affected their life in a positive way.  But let me put things in a better way...

On Formspring (a site where you can ask and answer questions), where I finally decided to jump on the bandwagon and get my own account, I was asked this question:

What's your goal in life? Aside from happiness, what important thing do you want to do before you die?

And I answered...

I want to be able to look back on my life, and know I did the best I could, by my ethics, beliefs, etc. Basically, my life goal is to have as positive an impact on the world, and on the people around me, as I can. That would make me very happy indeed. :-)

Does that explain things better?  I hope it does.

I also invite you to check out the other two interviews with grown unschoolers who skipped college that Radio Free School has done:

Cameron Lovejoy: "Is this what I want to be doing the day I die?"
Eli Gerzon: "I love my life."



  1. Hi Idzie,
    I noticed that you and Cameron both seemed to answer basically "happiness" as your answer to the question of what success is. And from what I know about you two I knew you meant more than just your own personal enjoyment: that making a positive contribution to the world was part of what makes you happy.

    For my part I just went at from a different angle: saying success would be making a positive contribution and that THAT would make me happy.

    Anyway, I hope that makes sense: I just woke up from a nap.... I'm always so out of it after that. But man was it a good nap! :)


  2. First of all, I LOVE that photo. Pure happiness, right there.

    I knew what you meant, but I think the misunderstanding probably comes from mainstream society pushing such a different idea of what happiness means! If "happiness" means having the most stuff, the most money, the most power - if it means being "on top", there have to be people under you. And sadly, that's what a lot of people think it means.

    Many people don't know the bubbly joy that comes from a free heart. That kind of happiness can't help but benefit others, just like a candle can't help but light up the room around it. When I'm happy, I'm full of love and good energy to share with others. When I feel sad, angry, or ashamed, I'm running on empty - I don't have enough joy or love for my own self, let alone any extra to give away. The more light there is in each individual person, the more light there is in the world.

  3. Thanks so much for the happy links :)

  4. How very interesting that some folks equated happiness with being self-centered. Help me out here--what's life supposed to be about, anyway?

    Nicely done.

  5. Yeah, it doesn't make much sense to believe that only "self-centered" people seek happiness. That would mean anyone who is happy must be a "bad" person (or just "lucky"), and that unhappiness is a sign of being a "good" person. I guess that helps some people feel better about themselves, in a convoluted way!

  6. We all say we are seeking happiness for ourselves and for others. "I want my kids to be happy," "I just want to be happy." And from all the magazines, media, self help books etc, it looks that what we aim for is that state of being where we are at peace with ourselves, accepting of ourselves, we feel appreciation,being in the moment...Can we hold on to this state of being? I doubt it. I don't think we should try to either. Maybe happiness is letting go?