At the end of the movie "Braveheart," William Wallace is tortured but refuses to cry out. Just as he is about to die, he belts out one word-
Freedom is a word and a privilege that has been easy to take for granted in America. Since Sept. 11 our sense of freedom has been challenged like never before. It seems appropriate at this time of year to discuss the many freedoms we have.
As your own personal declaration of independence, here are three things to declare freedom from and three things to declare freedom to seek.
*Freedom from too much stress: I did not say freedom from any stress. That's not achievable because stress is a part of life. But too much stress is not a necessary part. There are times when the stress level is high by choice (deciding to work longer hours to finish a project), but it's not good as a regular diet.
Ask yourself, "Is this something I absolutely, positively have to do?" If it's not absolutely necessary, some stress-busting choices include dumping it altogether, delegating it to someone else, or doing it less than you are now.
*Freedom from monotony: So many people get stuck living same-same-same-same lives. They do the same things every day after work, eat the same foods, go the same places, etc.
Add some variety to your life. Try something new. Simply doing one thing different is a 100-percent improvement than the same old-same old.
*Freedom from debilitating debt: Most of us have some debt, such as a home mortgage and/or car payment. Debilitating debt is the kind that keeps you from doing what you would like to do and keeps you working not to get ahead in life, but merely pay off debt.
The first step is to stop acquiring more debt. Then create a plan to get out of the hole.
*Freedom to live fully/to risk: Again, in "Braveheart," William Wallace says, "All men die. Few men ever really live."
Are you really living? What steps could you begin to take today to change whatever is stopping you and move toward really living? This may involve some risk. The men who signed our country's Declaration of Independence knew they were taking great risks, but they signed anyway.
*Freedom to do work that you love: Some of the happiest, most content people I know are those who get to do what they love for a living. If you are not doing what you love, here are two suggestions: Find something to love in what you currently do; Create a plan that will lead you to doing what you love.
*Freedom to have fun: There's great line by Dudley Moore in the movie "Arthur" that goes something like "isn't fun the best thing to have?"
Lots of people seem to have forgotten to have fun. When was the last time you had fun? If it's been more than a few days, it's time to plan for some more fun.
Jeff Herrring, MS, LMFT is a marriage and family therapist, relationship coach, speaker and nationally syndicated relationship columnist, and founder and CEO of http://www.SecretsofGreatrelationships.com
You can email Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org and sign up for his free internet newsletter "Great Relationships Tip of the Week" on his website at http://www.SecretsofGreatRelationships.com