“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” – Goethe
We mention “freedom” a lot in the US, which is somewhat ironic since many of us report feeling trapped in lives that we don’t find satisfying. In this post, I’m aiming to overview many of the “big ideas” of the blog and offer my vision of freedom – aspects of it may or may not resonate with you, and that’s okay… it’s only one vision.
For most of us in the “developed first world” (and since I’m primarily familiar with the United States, it’s safe to assume that’s the context I’m speaking from unless otherwise noted), the prisons we find ourselves in are psychological, and largely self-created.
- We approach life with unrealistic expectations of what it should be and then choose to make ourselves unhappy when it fails to meet our arbitrary standards. Maybe keep an ear open when you hear the word “should” and pause to analyze it – I’ve found that many of our “shoulds” aren’t actually in our best interests.
- We box ourselves in with labels and limitations and then act as if they are intrinsically true rather than mere mental creations that we have power over.
- We give away our power by focusing on the aspects of our lives that lie outside of our control rather than recognizing the vast array of options available to us to positively influence our situation.
The vision of freedom that I’m putting forward is a life grounded in a pervasive sense of peace. It is accomplished by interacting with the world as it really is: abandoning our counterproductive expectations, our self-created labels and limitations, and our unconscious passivity. The personal development and philosophy sections of this site seek to assist in letting go of these hindrances.
Freeing ourselves of these mental blocks opens up the possibility of progress towards breaking free from the mental straitjacket that society places on us when we internalize the status quo as being intrinsically “right” and “the only way”. One of the most significant aspects that control our lives is our financial situation – the cycle of working and spending that makes us feel like we’re on a treadmill that will never stop and is only getting faster. This is not the only way!
My vision of freedom is a state of being where we no longer require earned income. The concept is simple in theory – save enough money so that the interest generated on our savings (appreciation and dividends) is more than our cost of living. While this is far from mainstream, we’re fortunate that the path has already been illuminated. Jacob at Early Retirement Extreme has told his story (no new content, posts are on a loop now). Mr. Money Mustache is telling his story (still posting, though at a reduced rate). And many others have joined in this subculture community to tell their stories.
I will be telling my story here – how I came to discover that minimalism has mental and spiritual benefits that make it rewarding beyond the financial benefits, how frugality allowed me to design a satisfying lifestyle by focusing on what actually makes me happy, and how the path to financial independence can be enjoyed in its own right. It makes sense for a wide range of people – consider if…
- You want to retire someday
- You appreciate the peace of mind of financial stability
- You want the freedom to shift more attention to your family
- You want the time and space to launch an entrepreneurial venture
- You want to explore a passion that you find meaningful
Finally, when I think of freedom, I think of a freedom that doesn’t harm others – now or in the future. For that reason, I consider it a key component of my life to evaluate my actions from the perspective of sustainability. The best mechanism that I’ve found is the ecological footprint – essentially, how many “planet Earths” of resources would it take if everyone lived like me? Through the nonviolence and sustainability portions of this blog, we’ll explore ways of reducing that number.
I find it a positive sign that all aspects of this blog mutually reinforce each other – for example, we don’t have to choose between pursuing philosophy, frugality, or sustainability – everything works very nicely together.
So this is the vision of freedom that I’ve laid out – a pervasive and serene happiness, the financial stability to pursue your passions, and a peaceful and sustainable lifestyle.
So I want to know – which aspects of this vision of freedom resonate most strongly with you? Where do you see yourself on the spectrum of freedom? What would you like to develop further – mental freedom, financial freedom, and/or sustainable freedom?
Have a great week!