Today, we fire our backyard grills and the skies are alight with firework displays to commemorate our national independence. It is certainly a joyous occasion as we take time off and gather with family and friends to celebrate. I am indeed thankful that I’m able to live freely, not only as a nation, but also as an individual. On a personal level I think about what it means to be truly independent; that is, what it means to be an independent thinker.
An independent thinker is someone who evaluates the world through their own eyes, based on their own observations and experiences. Rather than depending on the words of others, an independent thinker will consider the information being presented and determine for themselves if they will accept it as true. In other words, there is a true desire to think for oneself. In contrast, dependent thinkers accept whatever they’ve been taught, accepting it as true without discerning for themselves whether it actually makes sense.
To be an independent thinker you have to trust in your own ability to make judgments, and act according to these judgments even though it may contradict what others think. Freedom comes from knowing that although you may make mistakes, they are your own to make, and you resolve to accept the failure or success that follows. Thus, as an independent thinker you become stronger and more resilient, confident to stand on your own even in the midst of naysayers.
It stands to reason that if we are content to think the same as everyone else, the best we can expect to achieve is what everyone else is already achieving. Therefore, I believe independent thought is essential for progress, as well as personal growth. It is only when you march to the beat of your own drum that you are able to create original ideas. Independent thinking fosters creativity because you don’t think about being bound by convention; it’s as if you are always thinking “outside the box” – because you don’t recognize that a box exists.
Thinking independently takes a lot of courage because it may compel you to “zig” when everyone else is “zagging.” However, the potential reward is great. It can strengthen your spirit, foster a sense of personal freedom and achievement, as well as contribute to your overall happiness — and that is certainly something to celebrate!