Today in the United States, we celebrate Independence Day. During our celebration of Independence Day, many of us focus on trips to the beach or the lake, barbeques, family and friends, and fireworks. It’s a wonderful summer holiday.
But if we pause for a minute today, we might think about the reasons that we celebrate Independence Day, the reasons that go beyond a summer vacation and backyard barbeques. We celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and we celebrate 13 colonies joining together to form a new nation. But we also celebrate the ideals that form the foundation of the United States.
One of the foundation pieces is freedom, and the right to choose and make one’s own destiny. When I think about freedom I often think that the philosophy of making my own destiny applies to wellbeing.
There are two parts to the wellbeing connection. The first is that you have the freedom to make choices each day which affect your wellness journey. Each choice moves you forward, keeps you stuck, or even draws you backwards in relation to your goals. The second is that wellness gives us independence. Being well gives us health, the ability to move and walk, to build strength and flexibility, and to live without assistance. Being well allows us to have energy without chemical stimulants. Being well also gives us the time and energy to focus on relationships, to have peace of mind and heart, and to appreciate all that we have.
Because we have the freedom to choose our own lives, we can make choices that boost our health and wellness. And we can make choices that do not boost our health and wellness. We might not realize that we are making choices that don’t promote health and wellness because there might be a good reason for it. We might have gotten busy with a work deadline, so we skipped our exercise time to get it done. Or we might go to a party and eat unhealthy food because we don’t want to be the difficult guest.
You might feel that a couple of those steps backwards have put you on a slippery slope. The great thing is that it can change with the next choice. You can get back on your path and continue on your wellness journey, whether you stepped off for a moment or a very long pause.
Pursuit of Happiness
Another foundation peace we celebrate today is the pursuit of happiness. You have the right to pursue happiness, but it’s not a guarantee. You have to want it. You have to go after it. You have to take action. Happiness comes from within you and is solely within your power to achieve.
Happiness is not a destination or a circumstance; it is a state of being. It is a mindset. You choose to be happy. Despite all the other emotions that you feel at various times in your life, you can choose to be happy.
I’m fascinated by research about happiness. Current research shows that 50% of happiness is in our genes. Our DNA actually gives us a baseline state of happiness. The next 10% of our happiness is related to our circumstance — family and friends, money, our lot in life. Most of us think that this part of our life is causing all of our happiness or unhappiness, but that is just not true, it’s only 10%.
We still have 40% remaining, and that 40% can have the biggest influence because it is the part we have the most control over. This part is intentional activity. It’s doing the activities that make you happy, like playing with your kids, doing an awesome job on a project, being out in nature, being of service to others, hanging out with friends. If I asked you to make a list of what makes you happy, doing the things on the list as intentional activities would make 40% of your happiness.
We have many things to celebrate. As we do, think about how you are using your freedom of choice and your right to pursue happiness. What are you doing well? What would you like to do more of?