What Does It Mean To Be Free? Answered

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When we think about freedom, our thoughts typically turn to rights like the freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, and other freedoms for which people had to fight and lose their lives.

Many of us are constrained by societal pressure, expectations from families, financial limitations, and fears. We act in certain ways not because we want to but because we must. We are unable to do what we really want to do when we really want to due to financial limitations.

What does it mean to be free? John Locke, Robert Nozick, and other political philosophers believe it has to do with property rights, the rule of law, and restrained government.

Get more information about freedom by reading on.

What Does It Mean To Be Free?

Jean-Paul Sartre, an existentialist, believed that despite our external circumstances or “facticity,” we are utterly free.” Regardless of their relationship to one another, the master and the slave both have choices, however grim they may be.

Depending on whether we see ourselves as victims of destiny or as genuine self-authors, we have the power to limit or expand our perception of our own potential (and, by extension, the potential of others).

Choices can be feared or embraced in the end, and I believe this has real ramifications for how we approach political philosophy or even the aesthetic aspects of political values like freedom and order.

It might be useful to compare the idea of freedom to the idea of being under government in order to gain a clearer understanding of the former.

For various people, freedom can mean different things. It might entail having the freedom to decide how they want to spend their days for some people. Freedom to choose one’s line of work may be how other people define it. Another group of people might define freedom as having the financial freedom to purchase anything they desire.

We come to the conclusion that we are not as free as we would like to believe when we broaden our definition of freedom beyond what our government(s) promises us and critically examine our lives.

Many laws and regulations regulate our actions and keep an eye on our desires. How we use our time and money is constrained by our obligations and expectations. We have quietly lost so many of our dreams because we did not feel empowered to pursue them.

Different Aspects Of Freedom

What does freedom look like within the boundaries of society? How do you achieve physical, mental, and emotional freedom? Here are nine different ways that we can exercise our freedom:

1. Being Allowed To Be Who You Truly Are.

Being at ease with who you are is what freedom means. It entails being aware of your identity and acting in accordance with it. You cannot present a different persona to various people and situations and believe that you are free. Your perceptions of others are actually keeping you in a cage.

Being controlled by other people’s approval causes you to not be your true self. Your authentic self is being buried beneath the persona you believe others want or expect as a result of your fear of being rejected. You are acting out of character because of your need for acceptance.

Some people have maintained this façade for so long that they are no longer aware of who they truly are. They’ve been suppressing their true selves for so long that they’ve completely lost themselves.

True freedom entails being able to be who you are, in all your flawed beauty.

2. To Live As You Choose To Live.

Being free means having the ability to live however you choose or intend to. Having a passion for your work is what it means to do. Being free implies working for the purpose of making yourself useful in a way of your choosing. This does not imply that you work out of necessity.

This freedom is not restricted to the wealthy. Anyone who is ready to give up security and embrace uncertainty can access it. Not taking the typical route to success that everyone else takes is part of the freedom to live as you intend to live. You must choose your own path if you want this freedom.

You will work on your own terms if you take the route you choose, which will be harder than the well-trodden path others take. The work you do will be purposeful and meaningful if you follow this path. Overall job satisfaction and fulfillment will improve as a result of this.

3. Liberated To Assign Tasks.

The freedom to delegate tasks entails the freedom to organize your time however you like. It entails having no qualms about seeking assistance when necessary. It also entails not feeling guilty about hiring assistance to complete tasks you detest but which still need to be completed.

Because they are concerned that others won’t be able to complete the task as well as they can, many people refuse to delegate work. Or they worry that paying someone else to do it will be a waste of money. As a result, they exert excessive effort in order to complete the work. Both their productivity and stress levels are negatively impacted by this.

Having the ability to delegate tasks means regaining control over your time and how you spend it. It entails upgrading people’s skills so they can perform the task as effectively as possible. You are able to take a break and recharge thanks to this freedom. It assists you in concentrating your efforts on tasks that will be most advantageous to you.

4. Free To Be Healthy.

The degree of your freedom is limited by illness and disease. How free are you if your physical and mental health isn’t what it should be? If you suffer from any of the numerous illnesses brought on by poor lifestyle choices, such as diabetes or heart disease, you are constrained in how full of a life you can lead. If you don’t prioritize your mental health, you may develop a variety of mental illnesses.

Dealing with any addictions you may have is part of being free to be healthy. When you are addicted to something—drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, really anything—you are under its control. Even something as simple as a caffeine addiction, which requires you to drink multiple cups of coffee every day in order to function, limits your freedom. Your freedom can be hindered by an addiction even if it has no detrimental effects on your health. Threats to your freedom include anything that limits your options. Your options are limited by addictions.

A person who enjoys freedom takes responsibility for their own health and works to better their body. They don’t have any addictions, and their bodies are as prepared as they can be to deal with a health issue when it occurs.

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5. Free From Debt.

Any opportunity in life is constrained by debt. It is impossible to owe tens of thousands of dollars and expect to live free. Financial freedom is being able to afford what you need and feeling stable financially rather than being preoccupied with worrying about how you’re going to make ends meet. Because you aren’t looking for a high-paying job to try to pay off debt, when you are financially free, you can do the work you love and are passionate about.

Anyone, regardless of income level, can achieve financial freedom. To be financially free, you don’t need to have a net worth in the millions. You might be surprised to learn that some of the wealthiest people in the world have enormous debts.

The ability to live within your means and the absence of the desire to indulge in excessive spending are prerequisites for debt freedom. Being financially independent entails not requiring assistance from others to meet your basic needs, such as food and clean clothing.

To be financially free, you don’t need to own a lot of homes and vehicles or take frequent trips to far-off places. Acquiring income-generating skills that guarantee you’ll always have job options can ensure financial freedom. Even just trying to save as much money as you can helps you avoid being shackled to an unsatisfying job.

Being financially free means having choices in many areas of your life.

6. Without The Worry Of Being By Oneself.

Many people have remained in unhealthy relationships they should have left years ago because they are afraid of being alone. Value your relationship with yourself first and foremost if you want to be free from the fear of being alone. It entails having a complete self-independent of needing to be filled by another person.

You tolerate behavior that you have no business tolerating when you are afraid of being by yourself. Abusers are drawn to you because they can sense your fears. They might even manipulate your fear to make you submit to their mistreatment.

Being liberated from toxic friendships and romantic relationships entails being liberated from the fear of being alone. It entails loving yourself enough to end an abusive relationship. To achieve this freedom, you must establish a solid support network that encourages you to improve as a person.

7. I Can Prioritize Myself.

For many of us, prioritizing ourselves is accompanied by a great deal of guilt. We feel guilty for either taking the time to prioritize our needs or for “wasting” our limited resources on ourselves.

Years of cultural and religious teachings against selfishness and considering our needs and wants have frequently led to this guilt. We put the needs and wants of everyone else before our own in an effort to avoid appearing selfish. even absolute strangers at times.

While there should be room in our lives for altruism, constantly trying to please everyone else only creates future health and mental challenges. When you have the freedom to put yourself first, you will prioritize your needs for rest and refueling as well as for self-care.

This freedom has a favorable effect on the freedom to be healthy. As a result of prioritizing yourself, your physical and mental health will also come first. You are standing up for yourself in the same way that you do for others.

8. Open To Making Errors.

A few mistakes must be made along the way in order to learn anything. However, we are indoctrinated with a harmful fear of making mistakes from a young age.

In elementary school, for instance, we practice a new skill through homework and worksheets after being taught it once, or twice if we’re lucky. The teacher makes a bright red mark on our paper if we submit an incorrect response. Since we are aware that the prize is reserved for the person who completes their work without any errors, we naturally try to minimize the amount of red ink on our work.

In actuality, mistakes aid in our learning. It’s unlikely that you’ll pick up a new skill and do it without making any mistakes right away. However, since we’ve been taught to be afraid of making mistakes or being embarrassed when we did, we fear making them again as adults and are prone to giving up when we don’t understand something right away.

As a result of years of mental conditioning, we now need to unlearn it because it prevents us from growing and improving. We cling to our comfort zones out of fear of making a mistake. It prevents us from pursuing our aspirations and expanding. It keeps us moving in the same direction as before.

We are more willing to learn, take risks, and come up with novel solutions when we are given the freedom to make mistakes. As a result of our freedom, we have the confidence to forge our own course and explore uncharted territory.

9. Freedom From Fear.

You’ll notice that we are unable to take advantage of the majority of the various freedoms mentioned above because of fear. We remain confined by fear. It keeps us trapped inside the boundaries of our comfort zones and prevents us from embracing discomfort.

Freedom brings a great deal of uncertainty. We don’t know if accepting our freedom is the right decision for us. We feel at ease, at least within our comfort zone. Despite not being happy, we are at least prepared.

We are not provided with the same assurance of freedom. It merely assures us of the chance to act in a way that we won’t later regret. Fear does not go away just because you stop feeling it. Allowing fear to stop you is not being free from fear. It entails continuing to move forward while your knees are contacting one another.

Basically, you learn how to read your fear and tell the difference between the fear that protects you from harm and the fear that prevents you from living your life to the fullest.

More complex than we have ever been taught or aware of, freedom. Your freedom of speech and movement is not the only issue. In order to truly be free, you must accept that freedom may have an adverse effect on your current level of comfort. You must be prepared to commit to overcoming fear and accept a lifetime of struggle.

Since we enslave ourselves through the ways we live or think, what good is it to have religious and political freedom? Being able to live your life as you please, do what you want, and hang out with those you enjoy is what it means to have true personal freedom. A relentless pursuit of freedom is necessary to renounce the expectations of society, family, culture, and religion.

Though intensely personal, the struggle for freedom is wholly worthwhile.

Limitations Of Freedom

Biological

Our freedom is constrained by what it means to be human. Our human form alone determines some aspects of our lives.

Our physiology, which in large part shapes our most fundamental inclinations, was shaped by evolutionary history. We all need to eat in order to survive, we all want to experience pleasure and avoid pain, and we all have some carnal desires that we feel the need to satiate. We take these traits for granted because they are so ingrained in our nature.

There are some aspects of being human that bind us all, regardless of how aware we are of their influence, regardless of how limited this “human” nature’s breadth may be. This is a topic for debate and was explored in the previous chapter.

Genes place a cap on our freedom.
The specific genes that each of us possesses determine where we begin rather than just the general human biology—to which we are all subject—which sets limits on what we may become.

We may not have been born with the capacity to be a world-class sprinter, despite how hard we train; our IQ may be constrained by our genes as much as by our desire to learn; and our general appearance was predetermined at birth, even if we wish we had started at a different point.

Our genetic make-up does not determine our fate, but it does place restrictions on the things we can do. We might never compete in the Olympics, be a prodigy, or be a model; not because we don’t want to, but rather because we weren’t born with the talent to be one.

These are constraints on our freedom to develop into the person we might have been able to develop into had we been born in a different body.

Social

We are creatures with conditioning. We are plunged into the world without having any control over where we land. Our social circumstances play a significant role in determining the range of options we have, our preferences, and our capacity to use them.

We might have trouble eating enough if we were raised in an underdeveloped, rural area. If we were raised in a wealthy, urban family, we might have access to a wide range of options, allowing us to select whatever we want whenever we want. If we were raised in a home that did not place a high value on education, it is unlikely that we would be encouraged to develop our intellectual potential. We might be able to develop the intellect required to become what we are capable of becoming if we were born into a community where education was valued highly.

The options available to us at any given time determine how free we can be. We do not choose when we are brought into the world at birth.

Even though we might have been able to witness nature in all of its pristine beauty if we had been born in prehistoric times, we would not have had the chance to fly to distant places. If we had been alive during the Renaissance, we might have witnessed some of the greatest artists of all time applying paint to canvas, but we would not have enjoyed the luxury of having vaccines for many diseases that are now curable.

What we have come to accept as normal restricts our freedom.
Our preferences are not only constrained by what we have experienced, but they are also largely a result of what we have become accustomed to.

Our freedom is communal.
It is possible to mistakenly believe that freedom is only personal because it is so frequently framed as an individual’s autonomy. However, some of the most fundamental liberties we enjoy and now take for granted were only made possible by our collective efforts.

As individuals, we have the power to limit our own freedom; as citizens, we have the power of society to expand our freedom. In exchange for the assurance that we won’t be harmed by others, we give up the right to cause them harm. These liberties, whether they pertain to freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom from want, or freedom from fear, are only as strong as the laws and practices that shield them. We have a duty to uphold them because none of us could defend them independently.

The Bottom Line

Freedom used to refer to the ability to do whatever you want without restriction or repercussion, but today it refers to the freedom from some form of bondage.

You are free to speak your mind, behave however you please, and assume any identity you choose as long as it results in your happiness. In our lives, freedom is what matters most. Live a happy life and remain free!

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