Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…Broad, wholesome, charitable views of [people] and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
I’ve spent the past two weeks traveling around the globe, with stops in Vietnam, Oman, Myanmar, and Kish Island. It has been an amazing stretch that introduced me to dozens of new and hungry leaders looking to make a difference in their communities.
As my team and I end this trip, I’m grateful for what we’ve been able to experience through the different leaders and organizations who invited us to speak.
I’m also grateful to come home. It’s especially gratifying to come home the week of the Fourth of July.
As so many Americans prepare to celebrate the founding of our nation, I return with an enlarged perspective and gratitude for the country I call home.
I don’t want to prolong the point of this post—I am grateful for the freedoms I have as an American—so I want to share with you five freedoms for which I am grateful as I reflect this week:
- Freedom of Mindset—one of the greatest freedoms we have as Americans is the freedom to choose our own mindset. Because of the other freedoms we enjoy—of expression, of worship, of assembly—we have the wonderful ability to set our minds however we wish. We can choose to be positive; we can choose to be bitter; we can choose to be generous of spirit or we can choose to be hard of heart. Our country is continually reshaped by the mindsets we choose to embrace as a nation, and for better or worse, I’m grateful for that freedom.
- Freedom to Act—America is a nation where action is welcomed, a place where a person with an idea and the will to bring it about can thrive. While we’ve not always made the playing field equitable in terms of opportunity or access, we have opened more doors for people with dreams than any other country in the world. For some, the way forward may be longer and harder than it should be, but it’s still there. And that’s worthy of gratitude.
- Freedom to Fail—I especially love this freedom, because I need this kind of grace! Not every decision I make is the best one, but the freedom to learn from my mistakes—preceded by the freedom to make them—is one of the greatest catalysts for growth in my life. The permission to try something new, or bold, or creative without having to be perfect is one of the greatest gifts of every American.
- Freedom to Rebuild—on the heels of failure, the freedom to try again and do better is another gift. There are places in this world where failure is fatal, places where mistakes limit your potential, but that’s not the case in America. We are a nation that allows people to reinvent themselves as often as necessary or desired—a nation that gives permission to grow from failure and try again. We are free to grow, and we should celebrate that every day!
- Freedom to Give—this might not seem like a freedom, but it is. The ability to give to charities or causes that are near and dear to our hearts is a wonderful privilege, and one we shouldn’t take lightly. In a nation where abundance is possible, being free to give money to people and organizations we believe in is something to celebrate. We’re free to give, so let’s give freely.
Wherever you are today, I hope that you’ll take a moment and reflect on the freedoms you do have, whether you’re in the United States or not. No matter our circumstances, we all have the freedom to think, to dream, and to treat others with kindness—and there are other freedoms we could name if we just sit down for a while and think about them.
I hope you’ll do that this week, and I hope you’ll come away feeling as I do: