Freedom is an essential aspect of life, no matter what culture you live in.
As someone who grew up in a capitalist, wealthy, developed country my level of freedom is already much higher than most people around the world.
I acknowledge this fact, and am incredibly grateful for what I have.
Yet, I’ve noticed throughout my own life, and by observing the lives of others in my society, that despite our civil liberties, many of us are still not quite free.
It’s this that I want to write about. Like many ambitious people, I have spent a lot of my adult life focused on the idea of achieving some form of financial freedom. It seems that in capitalist culture the desire to have more money than you need is the goal. Financial abundance is held up as the way to achieve freedom.
This is true on some level, I suppose. If you have enough cash, you can get yourself all the trappings of a nice life. However, in my observations of people who have a lot more money than they need, you can be financially free and still be emotionally trapped.
For this reason, I believe that true freedom comes from within.
We each have to create our own form of freedom by becoming the person we truly want to be, and living life in a way that doesn’t hold us back from growing.
With this in mind, I wanted to share the life choices that have led me to a sense of freedom.
1) Be authentic
‘And the truth shall set you free’ is an old biblical term that I believe is very apt.
What I’ve discovered is that the more honest and authentic I am with the world, especially those close to me, the less I feel trapped.
It seems that authenticity and sharing who you really are, even if it doesn’t fit with others, is a way to stop hiding. It’s in the hiding of our true selves that we start to feel our freedom slipping away.
For several years I was in a relationship that while good on many levels, didn’t allow either person to truly be who they wanted to be. It was very difficult to be honest with each other, but when we finally were authentic, it gave us both a chance to move on and become who we were meant to be.
Authenticity isn’t easy, but once you start to practice it, you will find incredible power starting to grow inside you. And that power starts to set you free.
2) Live simply
This is a lifestyle choice that has shown me the value of ‘less is more’. So often we end up thinking we need a lot more stuff and activities than we really do. As you start to simplify your life, and the amount of ‘stuff’ that is a part of it, you will find a sense of freedom and un-encumbrance, and a lightness that starts to permeate.
I moved country several years ago, and when I did, I left behind over 95% of what I owned. Since then, I have chosen to live much more simply, and have seen how much it gives me the ability to be free.
By eschewing the need for excess, you will find an inner richness that starts to grow.
3) Have a purpose beyond gratification
One thing that can become a trap in our society is the desire to seek more and more gratification. This can be in the form of more possessions, more experiences, more achievements or anything else that we think will make us feel fulfilled.
What I’ve learned here is that no matter how much you satisfy these base level needs, they will always return wanting more. Instead if you look at the higher purpose in your life, the things that will make you into an actualized human being, these are the true source of freedom. When you are living a life engaged in something you are deeply passionate about, your experience of life becomes much richer.
4) Be kind
The final idea is one that occurred to me very recently. Personally, I have always practiced being a kind person, for no other reason than it feels right.
What I realized, is that it is actually a path to freedom. When you feel content with how you have treated others, no matter how they have treated you, this will make you feel emotionally free.
If there are issues with people from the past whom you haven’t forgiven, or need to apologize to, I urge you to do this. Try it and you’ll feel the incredible emotional freedom that comes as a result. You don’t have to be friends with everyone you have ever known, but having a sense of kindness towards them will help you feel incredibly free.
Kindness is a form of personal power, and perhaps its most unlikely benefit is that it frees your heart and makes you feel content with who you are.