Happiness or Success?


Here is a question that I ponder sometimes: Is it more important to equip your children with the tools to be successful or should a parent just tell their child to do what makes them happy? The reason for this question is due to many of the contradictory views that I read and the people with whom I speak.

In many counterculture circles, mostly amongst people who advocate simple living, there is talk of not encouraging young people to go to a university. Often they will reference someone who has done well for themselves in life and in business. Sometimes they will post some long list of things that young people can do without going to a university. For them, life experiences make up for the lack of a degree.

On the other hand, there are people who advocate encouraging our children to do the best that they can academically, even if it is not something that the young people value at the time. The parents may or may not come from an academic family, but they can see the benefits of a traditional education, even if they do not go about getting one in a traditional sense. These people have degrees, but their lives vary. Some live a life of early retirement or as stay at home parents, some have illustrious positions at top universities or corporations.

I like both ideas. I suppose I have followed both paths. I went to a traditional university because that was the logical next step when I finished high school. Actually, I mentioned that I wanted to travel to a young man whom I respected, when I graduated high school. His opinion, more than anyone else’s was what convinced me to go to a university. He was a teacher at the time and he felt that the best thing young people could do would be to further their education traditionally. I followed his advice and I did my own thing too. I am not sorry I did.

I suppose, being a minimalist, I feel that I should always have a set idea of what I want for my life and for how I am raising Bean. I don’t know where this feeling comes from because it is completely ridiculous. I believe that often ideas like this keeps so many people stuck in a permanent pattern of unproductive behavior. I don’t think I am alone in thinking I should know what the best thing to do in every situation. However, I am going to promise myself that I am just going to do my best. I will do my best to look at the options and choose what I feel is beneficial for Bean and I. If I find a school of thought that is better at a given moment, I will give myself the permission to change my mind.

I like the idea of not sending young people to university if that is not what they choose to do or if they have no clue what they want to learn. Don’t waste time and money on it. However, we can always be learning. We don’t always need to be in a classroom to do it. When the time comes for Bean to go to a university, I hope she is ready. But if she isn’t, we will enroll fulltime in the course of life. When the time is right to return to a traditional classroom, then she can do that. The good thing about being alive and living in this day and age, we are never too old to go to school! Better yet, we are never too old to learn.

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