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Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

America is the land of the free and the home of the brave – or so we like to say. But just how free and how brave are you?

In his play Secret of Freedom, Archibald MacLeish writes, “The secret of happiness is freedom and the secret of freedom – courage.” It requires great bravery to be free. Look at the founders of this country – they could have paid their taxes, kept quiet, and enjoyed the security of British rule. But they wanted to be truly free, to make their own decisions about how their country would be run and how their money would be spent. The attainment of that freedom required tremendous courage – a group of colonists took on one of the world’s greatest superpowers.

Children could live with their parents forever, not worrying about paying the bills or making their own way. But most of us grow up and want freedom – we are willing to take on the risk of supporting ourselves to reap the reward of creating the life that we desire.

Freedom always comes with risk. Many of us struggle with true freedom. We are often kept from fulfilling our dreams by what we fear others will think. Or we don’t believe enough in ourselves. We spend years in jobs that we hate but are afraid to leave. We trade freedom for security, the possible for the known.

Some of us don’t even know what our dreams are. We have simply adopted the dream that society has created for us, often requiring us to keep up with the Joneses (the SUV, Palm Pilot, big house, big toys, more stuff!). Sometimes we unconsciously give our freedom away to friends or loved ones, and then resent the fact that they do not make us happy.

The only person who can make you happy is you, and the path to that happiness is freedom.

Giving away your freedom can be so easy – you don’t have to make decisions, you can blame someone else if things don’t work out, you don’t have to take any responsibility. But that’s what freedom is all about – taking responsibility for your life. After all, no one cares more about your life than you do. Why in the would you entrust your happiness and freedom to anyone else?

You can start being free by paying closer attention to your decisions. Are you doing things because you really want to or because your mother or father did them that way? My mother always told me to get a four door car because it was more practical, and I had always done so. This year I woke up and bought the two door sports car of my dreams!

Do you listen to country music because you really like it or because your boyfriend/girlfriend likes it? Do you sit through stupid movies and TV shows because your friends like them? That is your life slipping through your fingers! Let your friends enjoy the show and meet them afterward. It requires bravery, but you’ll be happier and freer.

Being free requires paying attention to your decisions, taking responsibility for those decisions, and being strong enough to make the decisions that will make you happy. You have the key to set yourself free from much of your unhappiness. Are you brave enough to use it?

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