This past Wednesday found us all celebrating July 4th once again, and we’re clearly full swing into the Summer season – beaches, pool parties, baseball, BBQ’s, fireworks, holiday sales and Joey Chestnut eating sixty-eight hotdogs in ten minutes down at Coney Island. So much of this holiday is about Americana. But of course its origin, and indeed that of America, is freedom and independence. It’s about taking a stand, and making a choice.
In truth, *everything* in life is a choice. Some are clearly easier to make than others – and some are significantly more difficult – but there are always at least two options.
The main issue with most challenging situations comes down to control – what we can, and what we cannot. Independence Day commemorates our forefathers making what must have been a very difficult, albeit necessary choice. They could have instead continued on in the same vein – putting up with the conditions that ultimately lead them to rise up and break away. But they didn’t. They exercised what they could control – their efforts – and they took action. And though the outcome was beyond their control, they were hopeful that it would be successful – and it was. But not every situation will be like that one.
All of us face moments of factual, unchangeable reality. Despite our discomfort, our desire for change, even our appropriate action toward influencing that change, it may not matter. The outcome may not go our way. We lose jobs, and loved ones. We get broken hearts, and broken bones. Life won’t stop bringing us bad news.
So how do we feel free and independent when circumstance appears to imprison us with outcomes beyond our control? Remember, there is always a choice. When we are presented with these moments, that choice lies in our perspective. How do we *choose* to view what is happening? Keep in mind that no matter how good or how bad your life may seem, it can always get better and it can always get worse. So when you lose that job that wish you still had, and you wonder how you are going to get another one, and where the money is going to come from to pay your bills, it is still your choice how you look at it.
To be fair, I am not saying that if you experience this scenario you should be happy. It would be completely natural and understandable to feel sad or angry or frustrated or scared. What I am saying is that after the initial, instinctive reaction which is almost beyond our control, then what? Do we focus on the bad news that we can do nothing about? Or do we look at the good things in our lives, find gratitude there, and mine those sources of positivity to fund our next course of action? It is our choice whether we feel sorry for ourselves and extend the discomfort or rebalance that negative outcome by taking positive action to create something else. Find another job. Find another relationship. Use the new found resources of time and energy and channel them elsewhere.
This is NOT easy. But it IS possible. It takes awareness, open mindedness, hope, discipline, patience and a lot of practice. In other words, work. But the rewards are great. Our forefathers faced a tremendous challenge. But they took action and created a lasting positive change. And the next time you find yourself really up against it, and something inside you asks, “How am I possibly going to deal with what’s happening?” you can too.
So whether it’s the 4th of July, the 9th of July, February 29th or October 10th, whether it’s today, tomorrow or a random Tuesday, here’s to the freedom of choice, and independence from a limited perspective and inner negativity.
And by the way, I like mine with mustard, relish and sauerkraut.