The World’s Smartest, Happiest Person Has No Career and No Money


He says we’ve come to rely solely on money. But we need to come back to relying on ourselves and connecting with other people.

Jon Jandai is a farmer in northeastern Thailand whose view on modern life will make you doubt everything you’re doing, stop you in your tracks, and force you to re-evaluate your career path.

He has no university degree, has very little money, and is not an accomplished professional. But Jon Jandai may just be the smartest, happiest person you could meet.

Why are we killing ourselves and for whom?

The path most of us take is to study hard in university and then go looking for a high-paying job. But Jandai asks the question, why? So we can spend 30 years to pay for a house? So we can have enormous debt, stress and worries? Work hard at a job only to live in fear of a lay-off through no fault of our own?

“When I work hard, why is my life so hard?”

Jandai tried university in Bangkok but began to question not only why he was doing it, but what his studies were doing to the planet. He says, “In University, you learn how to destroy the planet.” According to Jandai, architects and engineers learn how to ruin the natural habitat by covering nature with concrete. Agricultural research teaches “how to make the land and water toxic.”

While he was, in his view, learning how to destroy, he was also learning how to accumulate debt. He asked himself why.

“We are living in the most uncivilized era of humanity”.

The system is uncivilized

Can’t find success or happiness? Jandai says that’s because you’re playing in a system that has defined success for you and is therefore working against you. It’s a system that tells us we need to own a $200 pair of jeans to look successful (Jandai says nothing changed after he bought the jeans). And it’s a system that says you need to be a top professional to have any respect in society, otherwise you’re nothing.

The cost in modern society of having the basic necessities of life – food, housing, clothing and medicine – is so high, it is uncivilized says this uneducated but wise farmer – a farmer who, by the way, builds his own houses, wears hand-me-down clothes, tends his own garden that feeds 6 people, and works only two months of the year.

He doesn’t put himself in the “system.” Of course, people say he’s crazy. But he doesn’t care what people say. He’s happy. His life is simple.

“When people see me wearing old clothes, they give me more clothes.”

“I Feel Free”

Jon Jandai says he is free. He is not a slave to the system, has no “boss” and doesn’t spend his days feeling pressured and worried. He is, by modern society’s definition, an outcast.

Jandai has been called unrealistic, even “stupid.” But who really is the stupid one here?

Success is what you decide it to be

In addition to being a simple farmer, Jon Jandai started the Pun Pun Centre in northern Thailand – an organic farm that is also a learning centre on how to live organically. (

There are those who will say what Jandai is proposing is not practical or even possible in North America, Europe or any other modern economy.

I’m not so sure about that.

Because – Jandai, if nothing else, will make us think about our priorities.

The truth is, we don’t need to do what society expects of us. We don’t need to conform to the accepted pathways of success. We don’t need to be pressured into buying a $200 pair of jeans.

We can redefine success. We can make success whatever we want it to be.

Life can be easier.


Watch Jon Jandai’s unusual 15-minute TED Talk. Be sure to use the closed captioning option to understand what he’s saying. 

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