Happy In(ter)dependence Day!

In the United States tomorrow there will be plenty of hooting and hollering surrounding our annual festivities to celebrate our independence from Great Britain. Red, white and blue bunting will hang in communities throughout the country, and children will revel in the miracle of fireworks exploding above them. But more exciting to me is that tomorrow is a day when communities come together—there are BBQ’s, parties, family reunions and parades—all celebrating our independence. However, I see them as a celebration of our interdependence.

Sure, we’re all glad to be free from colonial rule. But I can’t say I spend too much of my day-to-day thinking about the Townshend Acts or worrying about British soldiers being unfairly quartered in my home. (Ok, there was a period of time when these thoughts were often on my mind—but I’m no longer a U.S. History Major living in Colonial Williamsburg, so now it’s easier for me to focus on other aspects of the holiday apart from the history.) However, what’s pretty cool about this holiday from my perspective as a mindfulness teacher bent on compassion and empathy, is that during this time of year as Americans we have an opportunity to remember our interconnectedness and common background.

Tomorrow is a chance to celebrate “Interdependence Day!”

We can remember that we’re all in this together. As independent as we may like to call ourselves, we could not make it without each other. Heck, we probably could not have won our independence without the help of French forces! Tomorrow is a chance to remember that the shirt on your back, the food on your plate, and the friends surrounding you are all here because of someone or something else (have a look at the Gratitude Webs as a reminder of how connected we are).

Our interdependence spans borders and so much more. From humans to animals to plants to the water cycle, our current existence hinges upon the existence of everything else. To me this thought is a wellspring of gratitude.

You don’t have to be an American to celebrate “Interdependence Day.” Here are a few ways you can celebrate:

  • You can take a moment to reflect on who and what got you to where you are right now and then offer some gratitude in their direction.
  • You can take tomorrow as an opportunity to connect with someone with compassion. Remembering that we’re all in this together why not be nice?!
  • You can make sure that those around you feel your love and gratitude—be it an extra hug, a kind note, or an act of compassion.
  • You can even send some gratitude to yourself! Shoot some love to each and every part of you that makes you YOU. Your heart that keeps beating, your lungs that keep breathing, and your brain that keeps running the show, each of these parts deserve thanks too!

What will you do to celebrate our interdependence?