Funny thing about freedom. We Americans believe strongly in the concept of freedom and will risk our lives for freedom around the world. And yet, many people live day to day with no sense of freedom at all – they feel trapped in their own lives. What keeps us wrapped in a straightjacket of work and personal responsibilities, unable to create a life of our choosing?
Often, we are lulled into the feeling that life will go on forever and a better time will come for those things we want to do. Tomorrow, I’ll call that friend. I’ll finish that project next month. Next year, I’ll take that vacation. As we all know, time goes by in its stealthy way. We never get around to many things and feel heavy with regret. We had so many dreams when we were young – how did we let our life slip by without making them a reality?
In other ways, we feel as if we are living in a box, unable to penetrate beyond its walls where we imagine fun, excitement and personal growth might reside. Instead, the responsibilities of work and life expand to fill our time. “It’s just the way it is,” we say to ourselves.
But if we look, we see people who have climbed over the walls of their boxes. They cast aside the same limitations that keep us contained and demanded the freedom that we yearn for.
What makes it possible for them and not for us?
One factor that keeps us stuck is the negative messages we tell ourselves. “You’ll never be able to do that.” “What gives you the right to do that?” Do these messages sound familiar? Consider what you would really do if that voice weren’t filling your mind and defeating your spirit?
Reinforcing that box around us is the impression that we need to make big changes in order to create the shifts that will lead to a happier and more fulfilled life. It’s important to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. As a physician coach, I’ve seen small things make a big difference. A few minutes of meditation each day can help us feel calmer and less hijacked by upsetting thoughts. And as our life becomes more fulfilling, we’ll have more confidence that we can accomplish even greater and more meaningful change.
So when will you take a stand for your life? Let’s all honor the revolutionary spirit of those who fought for our freedom by getting in touch with our own bravery and making choices that will mold our days into the life we want to be living. Pick one thing you have wanted to do. What needs to happen for you to make it a reality? What obstacles need to be moved? What steps can you take now to add it to your life? Once you’ve accomplished it, take a moment to savor how good it feels. Acknowledge your courage, your dedication to your own freedom and your own life. And then decide what you want next.