We as Americans pride ourselves in the fact that we live in a “Free Country”. But do we really live in freedom? We as humans have “Freewill” to do whatever we want, not being bound by instinct or another creature telling us what to do. But is that really true?
Are we really as free as we think we are?
Freedom. The word itself conjures up images of American flags blowing in the breeze, bald eagles soaring on the currents of the wind, or standing on a mountaintop with arms reaching toward the heavens. When you think of freedom what do you see?
Whatever that image is, I’m pretty sure That your version of freedom is not going to be the same as what you are about to read about in this section.
I think we can all agree that freedom is something we all desire to have in our lives. Freedom or autonomy is an intrinsic value ingrained deep inside us. It’s a value that can motivate people at a deeper level than money, status, or possessions. The bottom line is that freedom is vital to our happiness.
One of the images I think of when I think about freedom comes from one of my favorite movies. In the late 1990s, I watched the movie Braveheart. Braveheart (in case you are under the age of 35 or lived under a rock) was a true story about the liberation of Scotland from the English.
A leader by the name of William Wallace (played by Mel Gibson) emerged from the Scotts. He was not a king or noble (not a politician). He was not a Priest, Pope, or Rabeye. Wallace wasn’t a military leader or even part of the army leading the rebellion, until…… it became personal. Wallace was a farmer who fell in love and wanted to be married and raise a family. You know the MidEvil Scottish dream. All that was taken away from him when an English battalion raided Wallace’s village and murdered his newly wedded wife.
From this point forward in the movie, William Wallace moved across the country raiding the English towns and cities while building a powerful and inspired Scottish Army that began to believe that they could defeat the superior English forces and win their Freedom.
After many badass and brutal battles and being “stabbed in the back” by his own country’s politicians multiple times, William Wallace was captured, tortured, and sentenced to death.
In the climactic scene where Wallace has been brutally tortured repeatedly in front of a crowd of English Townspeople, He had been asked repeatedly to Confess his crimes against England and profess his loyalty to the King. With his last breath, before he dies, William Wallace has one last thing to say. He yells the word….”FREEEEEEDOM!!!”
I know you were not expecting to read a movie recap from 1995, but I promise this 3-minute detour will make sense and hopefully be worth it.
This story is not an anomaly. We have seen battles for freedom since the beginning of human history. All we need to do is look at our own country’s history to see several examples of people having to fight for their freedom. Braveheart is not the quintessential model for freedom, but we can draw some examples of the qualities it takes to be free.
I believe the first step to freedom is being aware that freedom is possible for you. To realize that there may be something different for you than what you are being told, shown, and made to believe. Something better, something life-changing, something that will lead to what you created to be, happy.
In addition to awareness, I think passion is an important ingredient. If we have no reason to move, human nature tells us we will just stay where we are. I’m sure that Many times we or someone close to us is hurt or wronged. This hurt may lead us to revenge or other non-productive emotions. Revenge is not the path to freedom, but redemption is. Revenge will lead you in the opposite direction of freedom. Revenge is a dark, cold, and lonely road I would not recommend pursuing. Redemption will give you the passion to do whatever it takes to grab hold of your freedom.
The last requirement to gain freedom in any area of your life is that you are going to have to fight for it. According to history and my past experience, freedom is not just given to us. It does not matter if it’s freedom from oppressors, from your living conditions, from your job situation, or from the pressure you place on yourself, you are going to have to earn your freedom.
I would like to close with this principle. This principle will tie all of these ideas and concepts together. “Freedom first requires structure and discipline”. This may seem counterintuitive but this is where the power of the paradox shines. Let me share a quick example from my life: I am about 175lb and have about 10% body fat. I do not take any medications, I am free of disease, and I am capable of accomplishing pretty much anything physically that I desire to do. I am also free to eat whatever I want with minimal to no damage.
I am not saying this to brag about my awesomeness or piss you off, these are just the facts. I am able to get away with this because I have been attentive, disciplined, and structured for decades. the healthy habits I have built up over the years will not allow me to completely fall off the wagon. Also, my starting point is in a different place than someone who is unhealthy, overweight, or just starting their fitness journey. Every time you push yourself to a new level through discipline and structure you have the potential on the other side to increase your freedom.
In closing, You can and should apply this principle to other areas of your life. When you start to do something new, you have to train, practice, think about, and plan continually and consistently in order to get better and achieve the freedom we so desperately desire in our lives. Remember freedom is one of the key intrinsic motivators and will make you a happier human. From health to family, to driving a car or building a career: Freedom = discipline + Structure / Time.