Freedom means you are unobstructed in living your life as you choose. Anything less is a form of slavery. ~Wayne Dyer
Not long ago I read one of the most compelling books I've ever encountered. Believe it or not, it was a biography of one of our founding fathers — John Adams.
I know. Yawn.
But please bear with me.
The book is aptly titled, John Adams. It's by David McCullough, the brilliant biographer who also wrote 1776. But the reason the John Adams book is so compelling isn't just that it is well-written (it is beautifully written). It's that the subject of the book is truly fascinating.
When you look at John Adam's portraits, you see a pudgy little man who looks more like an accountant than a revolutionary. But when you learn more about him, you discover this brilliant man selflessly dedicated his entire life to one cause — freedom.
Throughout history, freedom is a cause that has inspired people to greatness and compelled millions to sacrifice their lives in order to achieve it .
But why do we fight for freedom? What is it that inspires so many to die for it?
Freedom, according to dictionary.com, is “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” Freedom is basically the power to be ourselves.
The desire to be who we are and live accordingly is one of the most powerful forces in the world. Ask the Jewish people. Ask African Americans. Ask homosexuals. Ask women. Ask any number of enslaved or repressed people all over the world.
When freedom is hindered, our natural instinct is to reclaim it. Without freedom we become angry, bitter, and depressed.
But here's a strange irony.
Many of us who enjoy the larger freedoms in life have unwittingly enslaved ourselves in other ways. We've allowed ourselves to accept insidious forms of restraint and self-entrapment that create the same internal angst that arises with any loss of freedom.
Often we aren't even aware of how we are giving up our freedom and thus causing ourselves unnecessary pain. Take a look at these 25 personal freedoms to see where you might be restraining yourself from living authentically.
1. The Freedom of Simplicity.
You have entrapped yourself with many life complications. Too much clutter. Too many things. Too many activities and commitments. You feel overwhelmed.
2. The Freedom of Peace.
You live in emotional or physical turmoil with people and situations that are volatile, disruptive, or simply agitating. You don't have peace of mind or spirit.
3. The Freedom of Inner Calm.
Your mind is always reeling. You can't stop thinking, cogitating, or worrying. You have no sense of inner calm or tranquility.
4. The Freedom of Saying Yes or No.
You feel obliged to say yes when you mean no or to say no when you mean yes. You can't be honest and state what you really want.
5. The Freedom from Distraction.
You are addicted to your computer, your cell phone, your television, your to-do list. You allow others to interrupt you, to steal your time and attention. You are rarely focused and in the flow.
6. The Freedom of the Right Work.
You know your job is not right for you. You are bored, unhappy, and unmotivated. But you don't make any efforts toward change. You remain trapped and resigned.
7. The Freedom from Bad Relationships
You are in a unsatisfactory romantic relationship. You surround yourself with people who are negative, who drain you, who put you down. But you don't do anything to improve the relationships or disengage from them.
8. The Freedom of Good Health
You are overweight, sedentary, eating poorly. You don't take action to create good health and remain trapped in low energy, pain, or illness.
9. The Freedom of Aging Gracefully
You fear aging and fight against it tooth and nail, falling into the trap of overspending on products, surgeries, procedures, or material things to make you feel young. Or you simply decide you are too old and give up on living an optimum life.
10. The Freedom to Fail
You believe that failure is a statement on your character, so you never allow yourself to do anything where failure is a possibility. You hold yourself back from opportunities and challenges.
11. The Freedom to Start Over
You believe you have just one chance in life to get it right. There are no “do-overs.” You must continue on this path, even if you are miserable, because you've made your bed and now must lie in it.
12. The Freedom to Forgive
You've been hurt and you are justifiably angry. Forgiveness is impossible, so you stay trapped in your anger and bitterness.
13. The Freedom from Your Past
The old wounds and issues from your past constantly come back to haunt you. They prevent you from being fully happy and engaged in life. You haven't done the work to fully let go or move past old pain.
14. The Freedom to Love
You have been hurt by love before, so you can't open yourself up to love again. You have built up walls to protect you from feeling those painful feelings, but in the process you have imprisoned yourself from the joy of expressing or feeling love.
15. The Freedom to be Lighthearted
You take life seriously. You can't let go, let your hair down, laugh at yourself, or feel lighthearted. Having fun is for those who don't understand the serious business of life.
16. The Freedom from Gossip
You talk negatively about others because it makes you feel better about yourself, more powerful and above it all. But you don't realize the trap of gossip, keeping you from natural self-confidence and compassion.
17. The Freedom to be Spontaneous
You feel safer and more in control when everything is just so. You have a plan and must stick to it. But you prevent yourself from the spontaneous joys of letting go and allowing life to just happen.
18. The Freedom to be Sensitive
You've been told you are too sensitive, you feel too deeply for what is “appropriate.” So you've learned to hold yourself back, to hide your emotions so you don't make others uncomfortable.
19. The Freedom to Cry
If you allow yourself to cry, you will open a floodgate of feelings that you don't want to deal with. Plus, it's weak to cry. So you hold in the tears. You repress your feelings.
20. The Freedom to be Affectionate
Affection makes you uncomfortable. Or maybe your partner or spouse doesn't like affection, so you hold yourself back. You don't have the freedom to give or accept warm and loving touch.
21. The Freedom to Take Time Off
You work hard and take your job very seriously. In fact, you feel guilty or agitated when you take time away from it. You can't just leave it behind for a few days or weeks.
22. The Freedom to Stick to Your Principles
You feel pressured or compelled to pretend you believe differently than you really do. You don't speak up when the crowd says one thing but you think another. You fear rejection or shaming if you let on how you really feel.
23. The Freedom to Like Yourself
You don't feel worthy or lovable. You look at other people and feel “lesser than.” If you like yourself, it might reveal that you accept yourself as flawed or deserving.
24. The Freedom to Be Unique
You've always marched to the beat of a different drummer (or at least you've want to), but the consequences haven't always been pleasant. So you try to confirm to a more “acceptable” ways of living and behaving.
25. The Freedom to Just Be
Sitting quietly, right here in the present moment makes you feel anxious. There is too much to do, too much to think about. Your mind can't shut down. You are trapped by the future and by your thoughts.
This week in the United States, we celebrate our freedom as a country. What better time than now to reclaim the innate freedoms that are always available to you.
Take some time to examine your life to see where you have unknowingly enslaved yourself to emotions and behavior that prevent you from living freely. I promise — it's a cause worth fighting for.
Do you have any other personal freedoms that you have claimed for yourself? Please share them with us in the comments.