One concept we hear a lot of is personal freedom. Not in the sense of being incarcerated versus walking around within normal society, or human rights issues, but in having a personal sense of freedom. Feeling free. Every day. Many of us equate money with freedom, and it’s true that it’s hard to feel free when you can’t go where you want, or have the experiences you’d like to have without the money to pay for them. But have you noticed that often the ones with plenty of money don't feel free either.
So what does personal freedom mean to you? What can you do to feel that lovely sense of freedom, of being able to choose how you spend your time and where to focus your attention?
Freedom Comes in Small Packages
Often all we need are small portions of time in which we give ourselves freedom. Because freedom is one of those gifts we give to ourselves. And when you come to think of it, most people don’t need to feel free all of the time, but just some of the time. We want to know that we can make our own choices. We also choose to live with others where give and take is the foundation of relationships; whether that be working for a salary, being in a marriage, or bringing up children. We sacrifice a part of our personal freedom to and for other people. And we do it happily.
Yet sometimes how we long to break free. To have some time alone, or to revisit our childhood passions, or just making a mess with some paint. It is moments like these that we need to gift to ourselves as often as possible. To keep ourselves balanced and grounded. So how can we bestow these moments of freedom on our frazzled selves?
Freedom In Your Daily Routine
It’s possible to build little golden moments of freedom into any daily routine. And, when you get them, it’s important to appreciate them, revel in them and enjoy every second. The more you appreciate them, the more of them you will get. It’s as if when you are saying to yourself, “This is a beautiful moment of pure freedom,” you are also saying, “More, please, Universe.” And the Universe will find more ways to deliver golden freedom moments to you. It’s true: what you focus on, expands.
Freedom Is All in the Mind
Even someone who is incarcerated can enjoy personal freedom in their mind. Because that’s where it is. Your mind is free to roam, to explore and question. You can go anywhere in your mind. Of course there are times when you must concentrate on what you are doing, but nevertheless, take the opportunities to free your mind whenever you can.
Freeing your mind doesn’t mean focusing only on yourself. Being so self-concerned is not freedom at all. In fact, it’s the opposite. How many people do you know who are so self-centered that they never cease talking about themselves? It’s wearying and boring. Don’t be one of those people.
Every human has four endowments – self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change. Stephen Covey
Personal Freedom Snatched Away
Sarah Ban Breathnach, the author of Romancing the Ordinary and Simple Abundance, says she began her journey to freedom and appreciation when she was eating out and a large ceiling panel fell on her head. It left her bedridden for 18 months. She couldn’t taste, smell or listen to music, speak coherently, or read. Her vision was blurred. When she held her small daughter, she couldn’t process her ‘babyness’; the scent of her freshly washed wispy hair, or the deep blue of her eyes. Even being touched hurt her now ultra-sensitive skin. Sarah realized that in an instant her freedom had been snatched away from her.
Gradually, she got better and things improved. Her taste returned in the full orchestral sensation of spaghetti sauce. Her skin became less sensitive, and all her senses slowly returned to normal. But it left Sarah with a deep appreciation for the ordinary, and for all the small freedoms we take for granted, day in and day out.
Appreciation Inspires Freedom
If you can appreciate anything, anything at all, you can’t feel trapped, or fearful, or unloved. Appreciation is a simple form of love, and appreciation cannot live in the same space as fear. And, of course, fear, anxiety and other forms of mental self-torture cannot live in the same space as appreciation.
Invite appreciation into your every day living. Remember what happened to Sarah and make the most of every chance to appreciate. In appreciation there is freedom.
Make the Most of Sensory Experiences
Most of us breeze through life, without taking the time to enjoy our now moments. When we sit down to eat a delicious meal, we’re already thinking about clearing the table, and even on what the next meal will be. Every physical moment you are on this planet can be a sensory one. And you can enjoy it.
Focus on your breath. Just for a few minutes feel the air filling your lungs. Imagine the miraculous exchange of oxygen and CO2 happening without you having to do anything, except breathe. Think how the cells of your body are grateful for the simple mechanics of your breathing. Notice how the process is easy for you, yet so complex and beautiful. Appreciate your body for being so clever.
Focus on your food. Really focus. How lucky you are to have a plate of food in front of you. Notice the aroma. Feel the texture of the food in your mouth. Close your eyes and allow the taste to take you over.
Focus on touch. Whether it’s another human being or your dog. Appreciate the sensation of having a living body next to yours. Look at their hand (or paw). See the miracle that is them, right there. If there’s no-one in your life, look at your own hand. Love your skin. Your fingernails, your eyelashes. It’s all magical.
Focus on the sounds around you. Instead of numbing your brain with artificial input, simply stop and listen to the sounds going on all around. Isolate each one and be glad you can hear them. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy music or a good pod cast drama or a TV show, but learn to enjoy the peace in between as well.
Discover more of these moments of pure pleasure. Love and appreciate them and you will get more of them.
Freedom is Free
You don’t need a bucket of money to enjoy personal freedom. It’s not ‘out there’. It’s right here. In your mind. And all around you. Freedom to choose. To think. To feel. Freedom to appreciate. It’s the source of your power. Your balance. Freedom is a gift that you give to yourself.
Psychology Today: Freedom and Power Must be Grown Inside