"Happiness Inside and Out"

HSC presentation by Sandra Dodd
on Friday, August 3, 2012

How to be happy and some ideas about having happy children. Is happiness a legitimate and moral goal for a family to have? What are the alternatives to happiness? Come and collect ideas about how parenting can improve you as a thoughtful, compassionate person

Below is the dump of my notes. I don't "write a speech" and read it. I make an outline with a few quotes and speak. So if there's something here I didn't say, sorry about that. There are links to related writings below.

"I used to be annoyed by 'happy people'. I thought they were either pretending or just plain stupid." *

If you feel that way, or ever have, this talk is for you.
Or maybe you're happy and need ways to explain that
Or maybe you are wandering helplessly in emotions, bouncing off bad things, and good things, picking up emotions from people around you, without thinking about it.

Sometimes, conference.... "what to teach our children."
But this is about the environment.

School buildings, codes, laws, environmental safety, good learning space.

For Homeschooling the "environmental safety" and surroundings conducive to learning is much more about emotional safety.
And "safety" beyond "not dangerous."
Mental health beyond "not legally insane."

These aren't recommendations of things for you to "make your kid" do."
They're ways to see the world, and choices you might want to make.

Abraham Maslow
Mental Health

Negativity is contagious. Joy can be contagious, unless one is wielding the sword of negativity, protected by the shield of cynicism.
If you want to defend your negativity, the next hour can be a stengthening exercise for you.
If you can survive this presentation just as sad and as mean as you were when you came in, then go on and live your life, but stay away from my house.

Incremental improvement
Approaching perfection, no. Perfection is subjective.
Approach "better."

But "better" is unmeasurable. Too much measuring, too much counting.
Better is perceptible.
Better is a relief.
Better is better.

Arguing with "better is better" is saying that better is not better.
Worse is certainly not better.

The tool to use to move toward "better" is an awareness of choice.
And practice making choices.
Learning to make choices.


Genetics and outlook
My dad, and "decide to be happy"

[Quotes from a mom]

I've recently come to realize how my attitude hindered my unschooling for a long time. I felt like I "got" unschooling right away.. but could never figure out why it wasn't working for me.

Initially when we decided to homeschool - (mostly because of an article I read about unschooling when my daugher was 5) I was so happy and saw joy everywhere. Then somewhere along the way.... I started seeing a lot of negatives -

(husband, kids, people at park day)

.... complaining about it was pretty comfortable for a long time..... but never brought me any happy results.

Story of French homeschoolers and negativity

Cynicism feels like intelligence.
Pessimism can feel like energy conservation. Eeyore never jumps up and runs. Eeyore never bothers to plan ahead.

When people are very cynical, they seem to think that if all the things they think are stupid are eliminated, what's left will be non-stupid. Smartness. Cleverness. Art. Good music. But once so many things are eliminated, what's left is a cynical person who has rejected half the world, and has the memories of all the details of that negativity.

Divorce and separation
          "disappear him"
(at 26:15)
          multiply him

Beavis and Butthead, the Hallowe'en Special
Quote Cornholio
(at 27:46)

This section has been transcribed; click to go there

Too much counting...
Too much measuring.

The failure of 50/50
(at 28:35)

Kirby's roommate

Partnerships financial or otherwise.
The antagonism of 51%

"Be his partner, not his adversary."

Cathyn, attempted suicide...
Yelling at another driver...
He might...

He can't hear you.

Road rage story... it might not be road rage, but it is quite misplaced negativity.

Learning not to add to pollution.

Can a person create negativity?
If so, a person should be able to create positivity.
And to nurture and encourage and enable happiness.

Joy and Wonder

Links for more on some of the ideas above:


Negativity (avoidance)

Getting It

Divorce (prevention)



50/50 (problems with) (new in 2020; has a transcript of part of this talk)



Thoughts about doing better

Level Up!

Why Radical Unschooling? (Sound file and notes)

Unschooling Very Well (notes)

Deschooling (notes and links)