You’re not in jail. Congrats, you’ve got freedom.
Or you’re born in the western world. Congrats, you’ve also got freedom.
These are the two common ways we think about freedom. Substack writer Stefan Georgi taught me there’s a helluva lot more to freedom than these cliche meanings.
When I read the list below, I realized I’ve been bankrupt in at least one area of freedom many times in my life. You will probably feel the same.
I am bankrupt in this area right now. Stefan calls it “being a slave to your body.” That’s exactly how I feel.
I’ve been stuck at home for almost two years during a global health crisis. This has led to too much sitting and not enough moving. My computer is situated conveniently next to the fridge, so I eat too much. My gym has been closed, so that’s my excuse for doing little exercise.
The once a day walk I’ve been doing has been my main escape. My eyes have seemingly guided me towards the delicious pleasures of vegan fried junk food and one too many gelatos to teleport out of reality and into a cloud of salty, sugary bliss.
Now I’m paying massively for it.
Extra dental work to repair teeth. Physio to realign my spine. More time at the gym to attempt to lift weights again. A new office chair and other ergonomic accessories. A rigorous stretching routine.
I’ve been bruised and battered by coroni-macaroni.
The age of my body has advanced by many years. I can feel it. This is what old age must feel like.
When your body is in bad shape you’re not free to do the things you love. Pain becomes a daily frustration, and a distraction. Medical appointments fill up your calendar. Thousands of dollars escape your wallet to pay for the damage.
It’s cheaper to be healthy.
When our bodies are messed up we’re stuck on the couch thinking, how the fudge did this happen? When our bodies work the way they should, we’re free to move through the world without a care — body freedom.
Social media censors everything from a big Asian country with a red flag, to bitcoin, to a global health crisis.
It’s a pain in the butt. It makes us dumb, not smart.
Intellectual freedom is where we consciously do our own research, evaluate facts, get opinions from multiple sides of an argument, and examine data to see what truths it reveals.
This is a lost art.
Too many people believe stupid social media influencers who seek to gain followers with contrarian views, or listen to the news channels sponsored by ads that can determine the type of content shown, all in the name of maximizing profits.
One of the reasons I’m so pro Bitcoin and Ethereum isn’t because the internet told me to. I’ve spent years doing my own research, looking at data sets, reading white papers, talking to people building on various blockchains, etc.
Stefan says mindset is the key to unclogging the blocks in our brain that prevent us from being intellectually curious. A negative mindset can cause you to get lost in pointless emotions or to start to see opinions as facts.
If you rely on mainstream society to guide you in life, you’re screwed.
It’s intellectual laziness.
You’ve got to think for yourself. That starts with not being so black and white about every subject. Learn to see the middle-ground, the grey areas. While you’re at it, learn to see your blind spots.
None of us were an immaculate conception that can see into the future due to our generational wisdom implanted into our mind at birth by daddy’s sperm.
Freedom to think and do the research is a choice. It sets your mind free.
Human emotions are freaking complex. Emotional freedom is where you don’t allow your emotions to navigate your life. It’s a focus that brings freedom through non-reactivity. Life takes a toll on our emotions.
We’re constantly being stimulated by pin prickers who poke us like voodoo dolls to screw with our day.
Stefan associates emotional freedom with mental health.
If your river of thoughts is polluted then so will your emotions. The path to emotional freedom, he says, is love and empathy.
Rather than react like an emotional adult baby, see other people’s situations as your own. Lean into what that must feel like, therefore, unlocking a new level of emotional freedom.
Healthy romantic relationships are bizarre.
We fall in love and then spend 5 out of every 7 days away from home at a job. That’s supposed to be normal. Occasionally we take 2 weeks off to go on holidays and look at each other look at our cellphones while lying on sun lounges.
No wonder we don’t know each other and feel disconnected.
Then at work we’re expected to have some artificial “network” to make the business we work for a lot of money, or at least more productive.
Most of those work relationships are as deep as a kid’s inflatable plastic pool.
They exist for vanity or to complete a transaction, not to know who the other person really is. So we get home and feel alone, yet we spent the whole day with humans.
Relational freedom is when our relationships with others are deep and feel fulfilling — when we feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. That’s when we feel this harder-to-reach form of freedom.
I am not religious. However, I am deeply spiritual. I believe in karma. I believe everything that happens in life has a meaning behind it, even if we can’t see it right away.
Spiritual freedom has a lot to do with believing in the human spirit. It goes beyond just liking humans. It bleeds into the idea that you believe our species will survive and climate change won’t wipe out the earth.
It’s the belief that other humans are inherently good and trying to do the right thing. It’s seeing your fellow humans as teammates rather than competitors. When your mind is made up of these beliefs you feel spiritually free.
You’re not waiting for anybody or anything to come and save you because you’re already free.
Finally, the powerful freedom you already know
This form of freedom has become popular since the internet age: financial freedom. The meaning has changed over time.
The original purpose was to make a ton of money and then buy luxury items to show society your newfound status. This concept is slowly becoming extinct. The new form of financial freedom is to make enough money so you can own your time again.
There’s no need to make millions. You can get there with low expenses or off-grid living, if you choose.
The point is to have your calendar free to do meaningful work, think, read, write, practice your hobbies, and be with your family whenever you want.
Owning your time 100% makes you feel powerful. Many of us haven’t felt like that for a long time. I’ve only experimented with it in the last twelve months.
A zero meeting calendar allows you to work on the other five freedoms, so you could say it’s the most powerful freedom of all. I’ll let you decide.
Stop feeling enslaved by the system. Reconnect with and prioritize these six types of freedom to transform your life.