It's a question many children answer with a profession, whether it's a doctor, firefighter, singer, teacher or movie star, to name a few. Not Goldie Hawn. She remembers giving a different answer.
"I said, 'I want to be happy,'" she recalls.
This Oscar® winner and Hollywood legend has always had a joy for life and now spends much of her time teaching others how they can be happier as well.
Though the public has often seen Goldie with a grin on her face and a bounce in her step, she says that she was anything but happy back in her early days of stardom.
Prior to landing her popular role on Laugh-In, Goldie was a dancer—until she was "discovered" and began her acting career on Good Morning, World. She says it was difficult to go from being a dancer to a famous actress.
"I didn't want to be a star," she says. "I wanted to dance and ... open a dancing school. I had my life planned."
Around that time, Goldie says she became depressed and suffered anxiety attacks and panic attacks. In her 2005 best-selling memoir, A Lotus Grows in the Mud, she wrote: “Day after day in those early months of my time on Good Morning, World, I turn up for work, do what I have to do and lie down in my dressing room in between takes. Anxiety attacks, depression and overwhelming nausea are my constant companions. Maintaining the cover that I am feeling happier than I am is 100 times harder than the acting I had to do before.”
It's a period she calls "the hardest time I ever had."
After nine years of therapy, Goldie says she was able to find her “true smile” once again.
While acting in Hollywood, Goldie became known as a stunning sex symbol and "it" girl of the 1960s. From the sweet, perky mistress in Cactus Flower to the spoiled and sheltered young widow in Private Benjamin, she has played beautiful blondes who charmed those around them.
Although the movie-star culture places great emphasis on youthful appearance, Goldie says that at age 65, she has a strong sense of self and what makes her who she is today.
"My identity has never been wrapped around my being famous," Goldie says. "My identity has been what's inside of me."
On the inside, Goldie says she sees herself as a daughter, mother, partner and friend. Aging and outside looks, she says, are simply a part of life. "Getting older is natural," she says. "We have to face the fact that jobs are going to stop. You're not going to be a Hollywood beauty forever. You're not going to be the sex symbol. These things are going to change."
As a mother of three—her children are actress Kate Hudson, actor Oliver Hudson and hockey player Wyatt Russell—Goldie also finds great joy in her family.
Recently, her daughter Kate announced that she was having a second child, adding Goldie's fourth grandchild to the family, and Goldie says she's very excited. "[My grandchildren] call me 'Go-Go,'" she says. “It was my nickname when I was little.”
Another member of her family who brings Goldie joy is partner Kurt Russell, who she's been with for 27 years."[When I'm around Kurt], I'm on full alert because he surprises my brain. I never know what he's going to do." Goldie says. "He is a fabulous guy."
"How have you handled the 'getting married' question all these years?" Oprah asks her.
Goldie replies, "I have handled it by saying I don't want to be married. I don't see the reason. And also, we asked the kids years ago, 'Do you want us to get married?' And they went, 'No.' They didn't want us to be married."
For Goldie, it was a deliberate decision not to marry. That the decision is there for the couple on a daily basis, she says, is empowering. Also important to both Goldie and Oprah is—married or not married—being with a person who loves you, wants what's best for you and won't restrict you.
"If you're with somebody who's going to restrict you from becoming who you're supposed to be in the world, then you're with the wrong person," Oprah says.
Now, Goldie is on a mission to teach people to be happier, something she's had to learn how to do herself. From her happiness initiative with The Hawn Foundation to sharing laughs with her friends, she's devoted to helping both children and adults experience optimum happiness.
Happiness Quiz: How happy are you? Does having children make you happier? How many close friends do you have? Take our quiz to see where you fall on the happy meter.
Printed from Oprah.com on Sunday, December 8, 2013