should I leave the nest?

Happiness by Design

dirk dieter
3 min readFeb 15, 2021


Why is the idea of pursuing happiness so loaded?

…and what the hell does it have to do with design?

We are all designers and doesn’t everybody want to be happy?

As far as I can tell the answer is no. We do not all want to be happy or at least we do not all know how to be happy. Happiness is selfish. Happiness is not considered productive by many standards.

We learn as children that life does not revolve around us, our needs and our desires. It’s a rude awakening. We are naturally self centered and as we “mature” we learn to respect others and abide by the rules.

What constitutes a happy life? Is it a percentage game? If we spend 50% of our time doing things we love are we happy? Is it 60%? Is it less?

As young adults we should have goals. What are you doing when you grow up? What are you going to be?

Wait. I already be.

Okay. Enough of my ridiculous banter. We need to make money. That’s just a fact unless you’re a Rockefeller or a bird.

If you’re a bird at some point we either get kicked out of the nest or learn to fly on our own. Either way you have to fly but, being birds, do we need a reason to fly or do we need a respectable job to fly?

There are many reasons to fly but mostly that is just what birds do.
Except for singing, that’s all that birds do. They fly, they sing, they eat. Okay, birds do a lot.

So what do humans do?

Humans are supposedly the most self-aware beings on earth. That translates to self judgment and self-involvement and worry. Are we doing the right thing? Are we doing what momma bird wanted us to do?

So, this brings me to design. As I said, everybody is a designer. We all make choices every day and if those choices are based on a thought process then that is design. If you chose where to put your couch in your living room, then that is design. If you decided to get coffee instead of tea, then that is design.

The point is that every choice you make is the design of your life. You are designing your life.

But design, at its best, is a fairly intricate process. It involves research and problem solving and prototyping and testing.

So, just like you decided to put that couch next to the sunny window in your living room, you should also figure out where your life needs to go.

We all have different living rooms and different couches. You may choose not to have a living room at all. You may choose not to have a house at all. These are all good choices.

You have choices.

We are not all at the same starting point. We don’t all have the same advantages or the same problems but we do all have the ability to examine and review and plan.

Design is a process. It’s rarely a straight line. It doesn’t necessarily have an end point but it is definitely a method toward a goal.

Happiness can be part of your plan. You may have to make money but you don’t have to just make money. You may need a place to live but you don’t have to just live in any place. You may have to eat but you don’t have to just eat anything.

When the bird leaves the nest where does it fly? Does it look for a strong branch? Does it float to the ground? Is it carried by the wind? Did it have a plan when it left the nest?

Leaving the nest is a big step for a bird.



dirk dieter

I'm living in a small house and adding a second story. I profess minimalism, practical and simple design. Your home should be a place of joy and relaxation.