A Little Happier: A Happiness Lesson from My Daughters’ School Motto to “Go Forth Unafraid.”

I’ve mentioned many times how much I love all teaching stories, koans, parables, aphorisms, maxims, epigrams, proverbs, and the like — anything that crams a big idea into a small space.

And for that reason, I’ve always been intrigued by school mottoes.

Recently, my older daughter graduated, which was a huge moment for her — and for me too.

Her school’s motto is “Go forth unafraid.” It’s part of the school song: “We go forth unafraid/Strong with love and strong with learning…” It’s deeply embedded in the school culture.

During the graduation ceremony, that motto was projected on a giant screen above the students’ heads.

And as I sat in the audience and watched all the seniors receive their diplomas, I thought, “That’s what I want for my daughter, and it’s what I want for myself too. Go forth unafraid.

What was your school motto? Did it make a serious impression on you?


As I said, I think about my school motto all the time. By contrast, when I asked my husband Jamie about his school motto, he couldn’t remember it! I guess not everyone is as entranced by mottoes as I am.

This mini-episode is brought to you by Prudential. Their new podcast Everyday Bravery brings inspiring and personal stories about finding the courage that brings out the best in us. Go to EverydayBravery.com or subscribe everywhere podcasts are available.

Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:


 Happier listening!

  • Vanessa

    Mine was “Patience and fortitude” (in Latin though!)

  • Brandi Roberts

    I’m a middle school teacher in the Kansas City Metro area. Our school motto is “Enter To Learn, Go Forth To Serve”. Every kid in our school knows our mission statement!

    • gretchenrubin

      Especially great to hear a motto from Kansas City!