I’ve been thinking about the Declaration of Independence of the United States. There’s a section just past the pursuit of happiness bit that’s been sticking in my brain.
Here’s the whole thing:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
And here’s what I’ve been noodling on: If we have the right and responsibility to seek a better form of government if the current form of government is destructive of, or just isn’t supportive of the pursuit of happiness… what does that mean for us as individuals?
We all live our lives by rules.
Not just the external laws and regulations of whatever external government we happen to live in, but our internal government.
We may consciously know some of our rules. But there’s so many others that we’ve picked up without really thinking about it, from our parents or our culture or lovers or teachers.
Do this. Think that way. Don’t expect too much.
Work hard. Get more done.
Play nice. Don’t let the other guy get the first shot.
All of it. Every last thing that we’ve absorbed, whether they’re conflicting or not, whether we truly agree with those statements or not, shape how we live, how we act.
But do those rules work for us?
Have we created an internal government that produces and protects and nurtures happiness, or is at the very least conducive to the pursuit of happiness?
What if we very consciously made the choice to examine our rules, our internal government? Piece by piece, looked at the guidelines we’ve allowed into our lives, and decided if they worked for us?
And what if those rules, that government we’ve absorbed doesn’t work?
Can we pick new rules, test them out, see what works?
People fuss about being consistent. Finish what you start. Don’t change horses mid-stream.
But why not dabble? Try a new rule for a month. Experiment with ignoring a long held one.
See how it makes you feel. Document, record, try it again. Try something different.
The Declaration of Independence started a revolution.
What if you could start your own revolution, but a gentle one. A re-evolution of your beliefs and inner rules to create a government that worked for you.
What would you change first?