Freedom is the one thing we own as individuals. Regardless of your place in life, your social or economic status, or your political affiliation, the one thing you will always have is your freedom. Despite this simple fact, we tend to give up our freedom all the time. The one thing that cannot be taken away we give away freely, often unknowingly, and the only once affected is ourselves.
There are countless things in our society, our jobs, and our lives, that limit the choices we can make, that pluck opportunity from our grasp, or that weigh us down. But, those limitations, those lack of choices, those unfair, un-asked for, and un-just circumstances have nothing to do with our ability to be free.
Victor Frankl wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” This is the essence of what it means to be free, “to choose one’s own way,” and it is precisely what I hear people neglecting in their approach to freedom.
Every time I hear people say “I have to” in their jobs, in their plans, in their lives, you can almost feel their sense of freedom slipping away. Rather than acknowledging the challenges and the choice we make in those challenges, we act as though there is no choice. We say things like, “This is what I’m supposed to do..” or “I have no choice..” and the fragile psychological strength of free will is damaged.
Those choices, those opportunities, the potential that we make for ourselves, as individuals and as a society, are most influenced by our daily decisions to own freedom, to express our freedom, and to acknowledge it at every turn. More choices don’t give you more freedom. Owning freedom gives you more choices.
Freedom is here and now or nowhere. It is in your current decision or it is completely unavailable. We learn to have it now or we simply chase it forever, never catching it, never realizing our power to create it. That we are, always, creating it. Each time we refuse to acknowledge this, we put freedom at risk.
You do have a choice, limited or not. There is nothing you have to do, like it or not. And the only thing you are “supposed” to do is, well, nothing. “I am choosing to do something more important” gives you more freedom than the excuse of “I can’t” any day of the week. “This is what I’ve decided to make a priority” is much more empowering than “I’m supposed to” and, more than that, it’s actually true.
Owning freedom is the most simple, most important, and most impactful thing we can ever do. But it can only be done if we choose to do it now. In your current situation, in your next action, and your next response.