“You need to give him some space.” I don’t know how many times I have said that to my kids over the last couple of years. They love our dog so much. Too much sometimes. They smother him with their affection and occasionally it will get too much for him and he will stand up and move away. He never gets upset with them, but in his patient, caring way, he communicates that he has had enough of their love and requires some space.
The kids don’t really understand and get upset about it, to which I reply, “Just wait. He will come back when he is ready, and when you have settled down a bit. But the more you chase him the more he will avoid you”.
It got me thinking about happiness and a quote from Viktor Frankl:
“Happiness cannot be pursued. It must ensue. One must have a reason to be happy”.
What I think he is saying is that happiness is not the goal of life. The pursuit of happiness is folly. If we pursue meaning, that will bring about happiness. Happiness will come after we find our meaning.
Meaning, for most of us, is usually based around the people in our life. Our families, friends, people we serve in our career, or in the community. If we can find it, then happy moments will appear, even if there are challenges and difficulties.
The more we chase after happiness, the more it will avoid us. Once we find our meaning, and have settled down a bit, happiness will come to us.
Remember that to change course or accept correction leaves you just as free as you were. The action is your own, driven by your own impulse and judgement, indeed your own intelligence.
I don’t think that I know what freedom really means because I have never been held captive. Not in a physical sense anyway. As a white male, living in a western country, I am possibly the most free person on the planet. I don’t want to take that for granted.
But, the greatest trick that we pull on ourselves is to think that we are trapped by something when we are not. The government, our family, our job, our friends, the weather, the global pandemic. But none of those things can hold me captive unless I want them to.
- The government may put a mask mandate or vaccination mandate in place. They are unable to force me to do either. It is my choice to say yes or no to them. I am free.
- Just because I have a wife and young children doesn’t stop me from doing what I want to do, whenever I want to do it.
- My employer cannot make me turn up to work every day. I can choose to do so or not.
- My friends may not agree with choices that I make but their opinion cannot stop me from living my life.
- Hot weather is not able to stop me from going for a long run. Cold weather is also unable to.
- A virus cannot stop me from going out and enjoying life.
What I am not free from are the consequences of my actions.
- Sure, I can choose to ignore government mandates, but the consequences of that choice could cost me.
- I could ignore my family and prioritise other things, but the consequences of that choice could cost me relationally.
- I could ignore my job and go to the beach all day, but the consequences of that choice could cost me financially (also, sand).
- I could ignore my friends and lose them.
- I could ignore the weather and burn or freeze.
- I could ignore the virus and get sick.
I am not free from consequences, but I am free to choose which consequences I want.
So, in my freedom…
- I am choosing to protect my family and community by getting vaccination and wearing a mask when necessary.
- I am prioritising time with my family to build quality, long term relationships.
- I am committed to my job which I find fulfilling, which will serve me, my family and the organisation I work for in the long term.
- I heed the advice of my close friends, whom I’ve chosen wisely, which will help me make wise choices.
- I will run whenever I want, regardless of the weather, but sometimes I will do it indoors on the treadmill, so that I can keep running for a long time to come.
- I am choosing to restrict my movement in the short term to stay as healthy as I can for as long as I can.
2022 is the year of freedom to choose the consequences that I want, which is an unbelievable gift that carries a weight of responsibility.