It’s July 4th and usually we think of this in as a celebration in the political realm – The day when not just the U.S. – but this whole world - started moving towards democracy.
Yet it is also a very personal day of celebration. I realized this when I read the Declaration of Independence with my children a couple of days ago. There’s a line that stuck out to me and I knew I had to share it with you:
And accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
- The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
This one line in the Declaration of Independence has stuck with me for the last two days because it touched on one of the biggest barriers we face to fully enjoying life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - ourselves.
Essentially, the founding fathers noted that the human tendency is to be complacent, putting up with all kinds of terrible situations because we like to stick with what we’re familiar with.
And I am as guilty of this as anyone. I don’t have enough fingers to count all the ways I have let complacency lead me down the path of problems and misery . . . And how many times I’ve seen the need to change things but not made the change.
I thought that when I read this historical document I’d be thinking about world events and governments.
But instead, it made me think of how many times in my life I have continued doing things that have undermined my health, my relationships, my economic security and more. Simply because I was afraid of change or didn’t feel like I had the energy to try something different.
It made me look hard at how easily I want to look for reasons outside of myself why I’m not changing things and place the blame there. Sure they’re there – but are they really as powerful as I think they are? Or let them become?
It made me reflect on heroes I look to like Team Hoyt, the father and son triathlon team. People who make all the reasons I use to explain why I don’t do things look insignificant.
(You’ve got to visit their website – prepare to be absolutely amazed and inspired! They bring family fitness to a whole other level!)
And it made me look hard at what challenges I support my children in taking on. It may be hard now to push them to get their homework done well, or go a little farther on the bike or show them (for the 10th time!) how to do a chore. And sometimes I give up. But often enough I catch myself because I know in the long run doing these things will give them more options as they get older – and more freedom.
When I think about who these men were who wrote the Declaration of Independence, one of the things that struck me is that they were people who had to battle hard internally with their own doubts, comforts and complacency.
It would have been so easy in many ways to keep going with what the rest of the world was doing around them. It would have been easy and acceptable in many ways to bow out once they tried a few challenges and then decided it was just too much to take on. Too much going against the flow.
I’ve read John Adams’ correspondence with his wife Abigail and how they both continually had to remind each other of their goals and spur each other to keep going.
So when it comes to your own personal goals and challenges, look hard at the barriers you’re putting up to getting through them.
What have you decided to put up with because you’ve gotten accustomed to it? What are you afraid of trying to change?
And looking to the beautiful, strong partnership of John and Abigail Adams that helped move a whole country towards democracy – who can you enlist to help you keep forging ahead? How can your spouse and your children help you keep your eyes on the prize?
Enjoy today’s celebration – even if you’re not in the U.S. since it’s a political win for everyone! But also take a moment to reflect on what could be your own personal declaration of independence.
Make one right here in the comments section or come share on Facebook.
Happy Independence Day!
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