This week, we in the US celebrated Independence Day.
Barbecues and fireworks are what we typically associate with the Fourth of July. This year, spanning the entire weekend, random neighbors were setting off personal fireworks. I didn’t get much sleep; our poor dog was traumatized, and trying to be a good ‘mom,’ I attempted to soothe her. Curled on the couch with this panting, quivering pet gave me a chance to think a bit about the whole concept of independence—of freedom.
Back in 1776, those upstart colonists, chafing under British colonial rule, declared their independence from King George, and spent the next seven years fighting the American revolutionary war.
Fast forward 240 years. We are no longer subjects of the British crown. Instead, we are subjects of governmental and financial systems, often run amok. The political canvas in this election year is painted in the most ludicrous, garish colors I’ve ever encountered. But this isn’t a political rant—nope, not going there!
What it does make me consider, though, is what Stephen Covey described in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People as our Circle of Concern and our Circle of Influence. Our Circle of Concern consists of those events and circumstances over which we have no control. The hateful, violent tragedies that seem to have become almost commonplace occurrences are in my Circle of Concern. They grieve me deeply, and I can’t control them.
What l can control, however, is what lies in my Circle of Influence. This, for me, is where freedom actively impacts my daily life. The choices I make, the words I speak (both to others and to myself), and the kindness I show—all of these are in my Circle of Influence. I can make a difference, right here, right now, to each person who interacts with me.
We all have this freedom of choice.
And this freedom can lead to living our Life Purpose, collecting those experiences that will fulfill us, and make life better for those in our Circle of Influence. Or it can lead to squandering these priceless, irreplaceable days of our life on earth.
To quote Mary Oliver:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?