The 7 Kinds of True Freedom
What is freedom?
We rarely consider this question, and yet, we all have an answer to it. We think we know what freedom is. We think it’s obvious.
“Freedom is not being oppressed!” you might say, thinking back to history class, even though until this day, you’re not quite sure what “being oppressed” even means.
“Freedom is being rich!” you might think, because hey, rich people can do what they want, can’t they?
These concepts aren’t irrelevant, but the truth is they’re very narrow, limiting definitions of freedom. You got them from a book or from other people. You didn’t come up with them on your own, and therefore, you’ve given up your freedom before you even thought about what it means to you.
There’s a famous German folk song called Thoughts Are Free. If you can think what you want, aren’t you free? Conversely, how can you be free without choosing your thoughts? Now that’s a good starting point.
Let’s try this again: What is freedom?
“I’m more into freedom from rather than freedom to.”
That really hit me. I was listening to Naval Ravikant on The Knowledge Project.
When the host Shane asked him how his values had changed over the years, Naval said the biggest shift was his new definition of freedom:
My old definition was “freedom to,” freedom to do anything I want. Freedom to do whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like. Now I would say that the freedom that I’m looking for is internal freedom. It’s “freedom from.” It’s freedom from reaction. It’s freedom from feeling angry. It’s freedom from being sad. It’s freedom from being forced to do things. I’m looking for “freedom from” internally and externally, whereas before I was looking for “freedom to.”
I’ve spent about seven years fantasizing about “freedom to” and another seven actively working towards it. The idea that freedom is mostly internal, that we carry it inside ourselves and that we can choose it any time, hit me like a truck. Could it really be that simple?