Freedom - An eternal voice17, April, 2013, by Seema Bhatnagar
Freedom from thoughts, freedom from money problems, freedom from emotional lows, heart wrecks, break-up blues, it seems as if freedom is an eternal voice from inside. For every aspect of life there is an implicit goal of freedom which we all want to attain knowingly or unknowingly. Wherever we are, in whatever situation we are, we want to set ourselves free, even if it is a comfort zone we are constantly thinking to set ourselves free from it. Perhaps, nature abhors stagnation and wants us to grow in every possible way which suggests that yearning for freedom is hard wired in us and we are relentlessly seeking it.
Quite often we talk of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom to be self, freedom to do what feels like but are we really free to that extent and enjoy these freedoms. I guess, each one of us is struggling with one issue or other in personal life and want to get free and liberated from that state of entanglement. Due to several personal compulsions many of us have to continue working on the job which we dislike, sometimes to continue in the same relationship which has become a burden and meaningless or to continue living in the same place even when the surrounding and environment are not conducive. Sometimes it feels as if there is an infinite queue of problems and if one is resolved the next one is waiting to hit in our face. So all this makes us to think, if there is any ultimate freedom exist in life or it is just a flowery word in dictionary and meaningful only for nations than to individuals?
In our daily life, the actual meaning of freedom is, to exercise our will and choice in selecting career, job, relationships, house, places to live, food we eat, clothes we wear and spending money the way we like. These are some basic freedoms which we see and experience in our delay life. On looking closely, the aspect of freedom touches deeply every aspect of our life and its' absence can make us suffocating to death.
The yearning of freedom is not just on the physical level but it is much deeper. In spiritual world, the ultimate state of freedom is called "Mukti", which is a freedom of soul from circle of birth and death and it is the supreme and ultimate pursuit of every spiritual seeker. The whole philosophy of Hinduism is laid on the concept of "Mukti".
Freedom in true form allows an individual to experience the true expression of self. Since we all are unique individuals, freedom helps us to express our likes and dislikes and to choose those activities and things in life which aligns perfectly to our true nature. People who exercise their personal freedom on daily basis are more joyful, creative, and positive and bear no grudges against others. This is so because freedom helps them to bring out their true expression and they are in complete harmony with self.
Are you enjoying freedom?
If you understand and believe that freedom is something which we cannot live without then let's have a quick test to see if you are truly a free person and how much personal freedom you enjoy on daily basis.
- Get up one hour late in the morning from your regular time.
- Go for extended lunch hours and tea breaks during working hours.
- Read and watch what you like every day.
- Meet and mingle with people whom you like and love.
- Laugh and smile whenever you feel like.
- Wear clothes of colors you like.
- Eat what you love.
- Visit places which you like.
These are some of the common areas which come under personal freedom. Disappointingly, you would realize that actually we do not enjoy this level of personal freedom despite the fact that we are free beings. On digging deeper in your routine, you would discover, except making choice in holding things from right and left hand, you cannot exercise much personal freedom.
Striving to be free
“Freedom is the greatest fruit of self-sufficiency” ~ Epicurus
Categorically, there are two types of freedom one can enjoy, External and Internal. External freedom is freedom from rules imposed by environments and surroundings and internal freedom is freedom from upsetting emotions and reactions towards external stimuli. On a daily basis, an average person is struggling to attain both these external and internal freedoms.
Knowing that freedom is so essential for us but still we are not able to attain it fully. This is because, majority of us do not know what exactly we want as an expression of personal freedom. Most of the times we simply want to exit from current situation without knowing what actually will give us a truly meaningful life full of freedom. There are millions of people who want to do something to feel free but because of ignorance of not knowing what actually means personal freedom they continue in the same situation until situation overthrows them.
Since we are driven by so many environmental factors which decides our compulsions in life the concept of personal freedom looks ridiculous and we willingly settle down in the situation by surrendering our personal freedom. From one perspective it looks practical since you feel that you are making adjustment with the situation because at the end of the day you have to survive and that too decently. Although you make adjustment to survive, but the inner voice constantly reminds you of discomfort of losing freedom. This discomfort could be due to misaligned job, unhappy relationships or misaligned career. There could be other n number of reasons in life which can make you think as if you are compromising personal freedom. This discomfort become a reason of anger, irritation, lack of interest, sub optimal approach towards handling situations and you feel totally disengaged and demotivated in life. As a result you become recluse and start avoiding people thinking that they do not understand you at all. But the reality is you do not understand yourself and do not have enough courage to break free from the current entanglement just because you have to survive.
Work and Freedom
Normally, working hours demands us to be available for at least 9-10 hours but for some it can go beyond this and could be more grueling. Imagine, if the work is not to your taste and you are continuing because there is no other choice available then it is natural you will end up having strained relationships in office with peers and bosses and that will reflect at home too and will further damage relationships with family. Living with a constant feeling of discomfort and helplessness makes one to think as if s/he is working as a slave. With such individual on board, do you think a company can create and innovate? Many would argue, that work demands a certain level of discipline, commitment and pattern of working. Sure, that's' a reason why there is a dearth of creative people around and companies are desperately looking for creative and innovative people. How can you expect one to be creative when one is spending 80% of time working as per set patterns and procedures?
Working whole week for 9-10 hours and then on weekend party hard has become a normal phenomenon. The weekend party or bash is more of giving expression to suppressed emotions throughout the week rather than a true entertainment. People fall more in depression on Sunday evenings with the thought of resuming drudgery from Monday. All this leads to a situation where you see a pool of people living in a continuous state of suppression of their true expression which outpours in the form of anger, stress, jealously and enmity all over in working environment.
Does that mean one should shun everything and should enjoy every day as weekend? Well, it sounds like a fantasy and very impractical but to make it nearly realistic better choose a career and job which you love and which aligns with your true nature and character. This would constantly give you a feeling of comfort that you are not working as a slave but giving expression to your deep seated desires and enjoying freedom every moment. In this case, even if there might not be any external freedom at least you are enjoying internal freedom.
Google to some extent has realized the value of personal freedom and it's impact on the job. With this realization they allow and encourage employees to work under more liberated environment where employees can exercise more personal freedom. Check out one interesting video on it: Working at Google
Discipline & freedom
Since childhood we have heard that too much of freedom would spoil the child. Well, it is absolutely true because in the years when one is growing up and do not have a complete knowledge about what can or cannot prove harmful, self discipline is definitely required to learn things well and understand the personal potential.
But what, when one attains maturity or an age when one has developed better understanding of difference between potentially harmful activities and personal freedom? In that scenario, exercising personal freedom makes more sense. But handling personal freedom requires immense responsibility. One should not disregard personal responsibility to enjoy personal freedom as that would cause more problems in life. So, the idea is to inculcate the habit of understanding true nature and character since childhood with a right dose of discipline about how to exercise personal freedom. Such an individual will be able to make more conscious choices during adulthood and will be able to exercise their personal freedom in a mature way.
I am a kind of person who loves freedom beyond its meaning. I love freedom in everything I do and do not like to be told or commanded and love to work at my own pace. This sounds egoistic but let me be honest, I am not a true hard egoist and exercise my ego very sparingly.
During my student life, I always loved to be free, studied only as much as needed, during job, always wanted to finish my work as soon as possible so that I can enjoy personal freedom. But the corporate culture has an inbuilt hatred for people who love personal freedom. I used to be the object of hatred for my bosses for saying "no" to stay back and working late nights and refusing to take up assignment which I do not like. Moreover, since I am not a "Yes person" and hates deadlines, it used to further fuel the hatred. So overall, I was never one of the favorites of my bosses. I never desired to wear a badge of "coming first and going last" and always felt that people who hate themselves are the best ones hired by the company as they have better potential to be in a great love relationship with employer.
When I say, I love to enjoy personal freedom, I do not mean that I would go swimming in the sea, or going out for jogging or hanging out with friends, it is simply enjoying any activity at my own pace, an activity as simple as walking, sipping a drink or simply doing nothing.
After leaving job I am 200% enjoying my personal freedom and no more working in the beat the clock mode. Now, I decide about each and every moment of my life, how it should be spent. I decide, if this particular activity is really helping me to grow and aligns with my true nature, if no, I simply move on to other. I exercise my personal freedom right from deciding the time of getting up in the morning to choosing the client. I am completely soaked up in this broad spectrum of activities and relish them truly because they are helping me to grow. Since I love personal freedom, so do not over commit my time to others. My whole idea of exercising personal freedom has given me an enhanced level of joyfulness, completeness, inner harmony and feeling of completely engaged and involved in life. I have become completely self-driven and focused in life after eliminating all distractions and external controls. Well, it is really not as simple as it seems, I have persistently and consciously worked towards achieving this state. It took me at least 2 years to reach this state.
Honestly, with just an idea to share and not to boast, I feel extremely glad and delighted when I see myself touching somebody's life through the choices I have made in life, which essentially is all about exercising personal freedom, in that moment, everything else seems so meaningless.
With every day, I am enhancing my power of exercising personal freedom and aiming to reach a state when I am able to fully express my true self and living the best of personal potential.
How to enhance personal freedom?
The idea of personal freedom is so strong that everybody falls in love with it but falling in love is easy but to live it is quite arduous. Following are some simple ways that may help you giving some direction.
- Define your own definition of personal freedom without copying fanciful words from others. It must be 100% authentic and genuinely written and thought about by you.
- See which area of life which is making you feel trapped and entangled and blocking your personal freedom. If there are many, first choose the one which is most painful.
- Once you have the clarity about problem areas, see how many parameters you can control and how many are external parameters.
- Assess yourself about your current capacity of handling the parameters which you can control.
- For external parameters, see how much you can control your own response to them instead of thinking to change them.
The thumb rule is to reduce external parameters of control and enhance your own parameters. This is absolutely not a sure formula of getting personal freedom but surely it a best way to get started on the path of life which is full of personal freedom which means a more conscious and powerful life
If freedom is our fundamental right then why one should live depriving self from it, one must strive to attain highest possible true personal freedom in life, only that will help in understanding your true potential and you will be able to live a more powerful life. You must not settle for anything which gives you discomfort of losing your personal freedom. Just break free from whatever current entanglement you have in life be it your job or a relationship or anything which is making you feel trapped in life, the only thing needed to make it possible is your will, courage and determination.
Enhance your personal freedom and be the light and radiance of joy, cheerfulness and harmony to others.
Wishing you a life full of personal freedom.