Embracing Both Our Independence and Our Interdependence

Independence and InterdependenceIn a mini interview of ours, I asked David his views about a subject that seemed to be growing in discussion at the time, and has arisen again recently, namely the question of interdependence.

It turned up some useful distinctions which visitors to Strength for Life may find very useful.

The transcript of both question and reply are below.


Hi David,

James BlackerFrom our recording on Happiness I remember you using the word interdependence (or similar); if I remember correctly you used the phrase ‘…and we need each other’ (’these three things; we are unique, yet we’re all the same… and we need each other’ if memory serves correctly).

I wondered if you had any personal thoughs or philosophies on this (interdependence) instead of, or rather presumably as well as, independence.


Hi James,

David HeardI can appreciate that the concepts of ‘independence’ and ‘interdependence’ sound contradictory, but let me explain my thinking on this.

We were talking in the context of happiness and my belief is that it starts with Self. If we don’t value ourselves, if we don’t have self-esteem then we can never be happy.

That is not the same as “being selfish” or “self centred” in the common view. It is about understanding ourselves and therefore having a firm base on which to then value the world around us.

So we start with independence – a self evaluating view of Self – irrespective of the aims ambitions prejudices of other people – the over-bearing father, the needy mother, girlfriend/boyfriend etc.

But if that world around us is to have real value then we must also understand our role and our value to those other people. We are social beings, we exist in a society (in fact several societies – work, family, leisure, professional etc) and we have to know and importantly appreciate our standing in those societies.

Other people have the unlimited capacity to add a richness to our lives as we have to theirs. This is what I mean by Interdependence.

So we start with Self and then move on to Self in relation to Others. And that is the key to greater happiness.

Hope this helps and/or stimulates some thought.

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