Is Independence at the Root of Happiness?

As we approach the 4th of July, independence of thought, speech and action is something that I always aspire to as the foundation of how I want to live in this world. The external forces of life don’t always make it easy, conspiring to pull me in various directions, but I do try to live on my own terms as much as possible. If I am going to behave in a certain way or adopt a certain mindset, I aim to explore whether I am ready to give it my personal seal of approval first.

 

Independence is born in the act of deciding how to live my life, owning it and making it uniquely mine.

 

It is all too easy to live in carbon copy snippets of someone else’s life. We see so many examples  social media that we might like to copy, but will they necessarily then be our path? If I see or hear something outside of me and trust that they know better than me, passing it off as my own thinking, am I truly living independently?  Unless, I have considered it for myself which means I think and feel on it to see if it resonates with me, and I try to keep what does and throw out what doesn’t.

 

True independence is rooted in ownership. No matter what our limitations, we always have a choice of how to behave. Society, employers and even family may impose certain parameters, but there is always room to express ourselves authentically. Independence is free of external bias – if something feels like the right thing to do in my heart, I have to be true to myself and follow through with it. If I have to cut certain ties in the name of what is right, then that is what must happen for the greater good.

 

Essentially, it comes down to whether you are happy living as a stereotype, or whether you are brave enough to create your own wonderfully unique path. Are you following the well-trodden roles of parent, coworker, friend, lover, repeating the same patterns of thought over and over? If you do this too much, you risk losing your joie de vivre.

 

This quest for independence does, however, have a flip side. If you make a contrarian existence your norm, it is easy to slip into an egotistical “I’m not going to agree with you because I don’t have to” mode. Simply be honest with yourself and recognize those situations when another path is required. Going with the general flow is fine when it is also your flow. When you need to find your own (alternate) flow, you’ll have the strength to find it, and others will respect you for it.

 

Feeling free is about making peace with our decisions and dealing with whatever repercussions they may bring, good and bad. In letting go of the outer shells of “I should be like this or that”, we are able to find that childlike and joyous inner being that yearns to grow and explore. We don’t quite know what life has in store next, but when we follow our path from the heart, we can be sure that our future will be ours rather than someone else’s.

 

We owe our forefathers a great debt for that day in 1776, but for me, we all have a responsibility to exercise our independence on a daily and even hourly level. There is nothing more rewarding than aspiring to live a sincere and wholehearted life.

 

How can you accept anything in your mind without genuinely considering whether you want it there or not? This choice lies at the heart of independence.

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As we approach the 4th of July, I thought that I’d ask some of my team what independence means to them. Here are their thoughts. Please feel free to share what it means to you in the comments section. Thank you for reading.

 

Dani: On a personal level, independence is more than just self-reliance.  It goes beyond me just ‘taking care of me’ or the idea that some people put out there of ‘I don’t need anyone else.’  I think it spreads into me having the confidence to do what I need to do, meaning, I have the freedom to make the choices I want to make. I can and I do provide for myself, but if I am truly independent, I also have a network of people that are important to me and that support my independence and I support theirs.  I think that fits globally as well, we are independent, we are free, but it doesn’t mean we don’t need each other or that we aren’t better off united and with each other.

 

Wendy: I love to see the flag blowing in the wind and seeing the Stars and Strips this makes me feel proud to be an American!  I still enjoy, when I sub at the local elementary school, right after the bell rings, standing up and saying the pledge of allegiance. Freedom is…… remembering our fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers who served in previous wars so we have our freedom today and to shake the hand of a current serviceman or servicewoman and tell them “thank you” for stepping up to continue to keep our freedom safe. It is being able to live wherever we want and having enough food to eat and clean water to drink every day.  Warm showers and clean clothes.

 

Shawn: Independence is extremely important to me and I love that we are free to pursue our own religious beliefs without persecution, whatever they may be.  I feel it’s important to remember this now more than ever because so many people around the world who don’t have that luxury and they long to come to this country for that very reason.  Every day I remind myself how lucky I am to live in a country where we have so much freedom because I know many people from other countries who don’t.

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