The Constitution of the United States affirms that each person is endowed with the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is true for everyone on the planet, not just people residing in the US; although in this country, you are provided with the freedoms necessary to enjoy these rights.

Many people living in so-called free societies, however, do not take advantage of these rights but rather take them for granted. Many people have not yet learned how to live, how to be free and how to pursue true happiness. In this three part series, we will explore the meaning of these three inalienable rights and the gifts these men were trying to impart to us when they wrote the Constitution.

“Living” merely implies surviving. At the most basic level, to live is to breathe in air, eat, sleep, be clothed, and have shelter. You have the right to live, to breathe and to be at peace, to be free from harm from others. Perhaps this is what our forefathers had in mind. But “life” can be so much more than just surviving.

To take the concept deeper, if you can accept that you are here, born into this family, at this time in history, to make a difference, to have an impact in the world in some way, then the word “life” has greater meaning. “Life” becomes more than merely scraping by. Yes, you need to survive. You need to make money in order to feed, clothe and shelter yourself and your family. Survival is important. But how you choose to spend your time and energy in order to get the things you need to survive makes a huge difference in whether your life is spent surviving or thriving. Living your life just to survive may not be enough to bring you true happiness. Is a life spent focusing only on surviving a full life? Is it joyful? Will it bring meaning to the participant? Is this all there is?

Most of us would say “no”. Spending a lifetime dedicated to survival is not a full and rich life. It is full of effort, struggle and stress and would not be joyful.

The first step in creating change is to identify what needs changing. Awareness is powerful. In what ways are you focusing on survival? Are you living paycheck to paycheck? Are you living in fear of how your spouse, parents, boss or other person will react to what you do or say? Whenever you live hidden under a rock, shrinking in order to protect yourself from someone else or something that you believe has a hold over you, you are not living – you are surviving (or trying to!). In hundreds of ways, each day, many people live in survival, barely getting through the day: living in fear, living with anger and resentments, living in the past, living with emotional pain, and blaming their suffering on other people or events from their past. In this way, you keep yourself imprisoned and so long as you continue to allow this behavior to continue, you will continue to experience these results and you will continue to feel powerless.

You do have power to change your circumstances. You need to identify those things that hold you back from living a life that is extraordinary, bringing out your best self and allowing you to experience joy and fulfillment. Once you become aware of your current reality, you need to create a vision for how you want life to be like. What would living an extraordinary life be like for you? What would you be doing? Where would you live? Who would you spend time with? How would it feel to live beyond survival? You are limited only by you and your beliefs about what is possible for you to experience in this lifetime.

Third, you need to learn to make choices that honor your new vision and that will move you closer to achieving it. And, you need to say “no” to everything that does not fit with the vision you have for living an excellent life.

In the book, The Journey Called YOU: A Roadmap to Self-Discovery and Acceptance, the prescription for living a great life is outlined in three simple steps: know yourself, accept whatever you discover to be true about you and your life, and then make choices that honor yourself. Tools are introduced to teach you how to do that so you can move from living a life of survival to creating a life that brings you the joy and happiness that comes from living responsibly and on purpose.

I cannot close this article without addressing the other side of survival: in what ways are you not even surviving? In what ways are you not caring for yourself, eating the wrong foods, smoking, not seeing the doctor and dentist regularly? Are you financially healthy? Being irresponsible in any number of ways does not support your path to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” because you are not fully living, but rather hiding behind a shield of denial or avoidance.

No longer is it acceptable to live this way. Decide today, right now to accept responsibility for the quality of your life and to choose to live an extraordinary life. Is it hard? Yes it’s challenging to do often the opposite of what everyone else is doing, since most people are barely surviving. But to break free is to liberate your self. You need to know what keeps you stuck in survival such as old beliefs, patterns, and habits; eliminate or change these things to positive and beneficial beliefs and habits in order to create a life that brings you joy and fulfillment while maximizing your skills and talents. Creating anything extraordinary is challenging but oh, so rewarding. And the alternative? The alternative is to continue to live, day in and day out, doing what you have been doing and continuing to struggle to survive, to maintain the status quo. The status quo is your comfort zone; it’s familiar regardless of how uncomfortable it really is. You must believe that whatever is on the other side – the possibility for an extraordinary life – is worth the effort of doing the work to make it become your reality.

Look for next month’s article on part II: Liberty. Until then, choose to think beyond survival.

Author's Bio: 

Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN is an Executive Coach working with leaders to be more emotionally intelligent and masterful communicators so they can better navigate through a sea of politics, assess and diagnose difficult situations, and deal with conflict gracefully. She facilitates groups to help build high performance teams that align behaviors with the organizational vision and values, cultivate cultures of excellence and positively impact the bottom line. Julie is the author of “The Journey Called YOU: A Roadmap to Self-Discovery and Acceptance,” the manual for personal leadership and is available for speaking engagements. To explore how coaching would work for you or your organization, call (610) 277-2726. Sign up for our e-newsletter or purchase your copy of the book at or write to