America celebrates its 246th birthday this week. The annual celebration brings up the independent spirit of the country.
When it comes to you & me, what does it mean to be independent? I like to think of it as a personal independence. That means that we are free to think, feel & act exactly how we want without allowing situations & people to unnecessarily dictate who we are.
Let’s break down how you can think, feel and act more independently. let your freedom ring!
A lot of what and how we think ladders up to our values and our purpose. When we are in environments and doing things that help us strive for our purpose and live our values, we are happy and experience more success in all areas of life. That success and happiness starts with how we think.
Understanding and having a purpose is a key first step. Some people may have a big overarching purpose in their life. If that’s you, then make sure you’re pursuing it. If you haven’t dialed in your BIG purpose yet, don’t fret. Find purpose in small ways. Our 5-year-old daughter lights up when we ask her to go out of her way to help someone. She’s on purpose and feels great joy. We can tap into that for ourselves.
Values are also key. Being intentional about living out your values will help your thinking stay joyous – even in stressful situations.
“No one can make me feel anything. I can choose how I feel.” That all sounds good. And it’s technically true. Our feelings come from how we interpret what’s happening in and around us. Don’t tell that to someone who is experiencing something sad or bad (or any other feeling word we learned in preschool).
Chances are our environments contribute to what we feel. If your environment contributes to negative feelings – change the environment. That’s where personal independence comes in. You can only reframe your feelings so much. You must create and uphold boundaries.
And, our feelings are also our responsibility. For the most part we can choose. During our family vacation, I was tired. We’re traveling with my wife & our my parents and both kids. 6 adults, 2 kids in Europe. Sightseeing in the hot sun, crowds of people, all on less than optimal rest. During a late lunch, my two year old is showing her age. Poor thing was done. And I let all that get me down – actually unhappy. I was talking about a good game: “it’s all fine, I’ll take the girls home, it’s okay.” My body language was telling a much different story. This is what makes Moms so great… my Mom said, “No, you’re not fine. I can tell. I see all that stuff you write about on social media about choosing how you respond… so, do that.”
She’s right! Sometimes we just have to realize what’s happening and realize we control the feelings we bring to most situations – especially on vacation with family!
To be independent, we must understand that what we do is all up to us. No one and nothing can make you do anything.
Actions we do are the result of thinking and feeling. There are steps before we act, which should give us time to choose how we act.
When you have actions that in retrospect you know you shouldn’t have done, listen to how you describe the situation. When you say things like “[so & so] made me…” or “I had to because…” you’ve allowed the situation to dictate what you do. You’ve given your independence away to something or someone else.
To get your independence back, practice putting in a pause before your actions. I advocate breathing. One or two breaths can calm your mind, which helps the stressful feeling and then allows you the time to have better actions.
This Independence weekend, consider increasing your personal independence so that you can pursue your version of life, liberty and happiness.