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The Power of Perspective

July 10, 2024 1:37 PM | Anonymous

Reposted from Tim Richardson

Several years ago, I attended a Patriot’s Day Celebration while visiting Boston. Patriot’s Day commemorates the anniversary of Paul Revere’s famous ride through New England, a ride that played a pivotal role in alerting the colonists that the British were coming. The bravery and courage displayed that night laid the foundation for the lives of hundreds of millions of future Americans.

The celebration was held at the same Old North Church where the lanterns were famously hung. The presence of direct descendants of Revere and other American founders added a tangible connection to history. There were speeches that resonated with the echoes of the past, reenactments that brought history to life, and music that stirred feelings of awe, nostalgia, and admiration for our humble beginnings.

After leaving the church, I wandered through Freedom Plaza and paused at the base of Paul Revere’s statue. Reflecting on the perils of his midnight ride, I considered the immense risks he and others faced as they met in secret. I pondered how their courage paved the way for the freedoms and lifestyle so many now enjoy because of the actions of ordinary men and women.

Lost in these contemplations, I barely noticed a stray dog entering the plaza. The dog, oblivious to the historical significance of the place, circled the area and eventually made his way to the base of Revere’s statue, where he unceremoniously lifted his leg, inadvertently dishonoring the hero I had been admiring.

In that single moment, my profound pride for our country was abruptly undercut by a sense of disgust.

Finding Resilience Amidst Disillusionment

Perhaps you’ve experienced something similar over the past few years. The sense of pride in our nation can often be marred by political turmoil, disappointment in candidates or parties, or economic uncertainty. Your personal or professional life might reflect this as well—a successful career shattered by downsizing or personal family hardships.

All too often, that’s how life goes. The good is interwoven with the bad, and joy and tragedy exist in precarious balance. Euphoric moments can quickly be shadowed by deep sorrows.

My friend and speaking colleague, W Mitchell, knows this dynamic well. As a young man, he survived a motorcycle accident that left him with severe burns over more than 65% of his body. Just four years later, he endured another traumatic event—a paralyzing plane crash. Despite these life-altering accidents, Mitchell could have succumbed to victimhood. Instead, he adopted a mantra we’ve all heard: It’s Not What Happens to You, It’s What You Do About It. He chose joy and personal responsibility over anger and blame.

Embracing Perspective on Independence Day

As we celebrate Independence Day, it’s easy to feel anger or frustration about the current political landscape. We may be tempted to attribute our personal or professional woes to politicians or external circumstances. It may be helpful to remember: It’s Not What Happens to You, It’s What You Do About It.

For me, that means finding the humor and positivity in every situation. The next time a stray dog disrupts a moment of reflection, I’ll laugh and focus on the brighter side. I will imagine Paul Revere laughing too, acknowledging that his legendary ride not only transformed the future for millions of Americans but also brought a moment of unintended humor to my night—and improved the evening for one very lucky dog.

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