If you’re reading this you probably live in a country that offers nearly limitless opportunity to be, have, and do anything you want.
Despite this freedom, I bet you are not living exactly the life you want.
Maybe you want to get in shape, have more financial freedom, or more inner peace. The great news? Everything you want is within your reach.
In honor of the 4th of July (and Canada Day, for our friends up North), here are 8 practical ways you can create more freedom in your life.
You are likely one of the millions of humans that work for someone else. You enjoy the security of a paycheck but sadly, the statistics say that 90% of you don’t truly love your work. If you’re happy to live for the weekend, that’s OK. But if you’re reading this, you probably want more.
Having a source of income outside your day job opens up all kinds of experiences that you couldn’t think about otherwise: tropical vacations, more nights out on the town, new clothes, or a cooler car. Possibly even freedom from the 9-5 grind and a shot at being your own boss.
In the age of the internet there are limitless opportunities to earn even another $500 or $1,000 a month. Trade on eBay, set up an online store, or write an eBook. The faster you get started, the sooner you’ll enjoy a financial freedom that most people only wish for.
Even the smallest towns in Africa have the internet. Practically every corner of the globe allows you to work from anywhere, so why not unchain yourself from your desk? Many global companies encourage their employees to work from home at least occasionally. Do this even once a week and you gain an hour or two commute time, miss some of those frivolous meetings, and avoid the distractions of chatty coworkers.
If you dig ditches you can’t work from home, of course. But you still have the option to switch to a job that gives you that option. When you untether from the office you free up a lot of time and mental space to do your own thing. In some cases you can get as much done at home in 5 hours as you would from the office in 8. What would you do with that extra 3 hours a day?
If you can shift enough of your work into the “remote” category, you may be able to take 3-day weekends and still make the boss happy.
Nearly everyone has too much stuff. It accumulates over the years. We collect clothes, books, and toys that we probably don’t use. The only action My Guitar Hero guitar has seen in the last 5 years is 3 house moves. Any time I do a purge to get back to a minimalist state of living, I create greater mental clarity.
When we regularly sell or give away the possessions we don’t need, our life becomes less complicated. Giving away some books means one less bookshelf. I know that when I clean out my garage I will finally have the space I’ve always wanted to create a music studio.
Having fewer possessions is also cheaper. Few things require less upkeep, a smaller house, and more money to invest in what you really want, whatever it may be.
The most-cited reason for getting in shape is to look better. That’s definitely a bonus, but not the greatest benefit. Being physically fit has a direct and powerful impact on your brain – you are sharper, happier, and your mind is quieter.
When you’re in shape you have more energy to get out of the house and live some incredible experiences. You can travel to places you otherwise couldn’t, climb a mountain, or play sports. You will spend less time sick. And physical training teaches you the mental toughness needed to accomplish other non-physical challenges. Your options in life are tied directly to your bodily health.
If you’re not exercising and eating well, you are missing out on much greater happiness. It’s easy to start, and you can do it right now at any level of fitness. Start now. Don’t wait.
Being idle is not always relaxation. Sometimes I lay on the couch watching TV but my mind is working on solutions to work challenges. When I’m in this half-relaxed state I might pick up my phone to grow my to-do list, or check work email, taking me out of relaxation and into work.
Try this: think of a time when you were in a state of true relaxation. Maybe you were lying on the beach in mid-July watching the passing clouds. How did your body feel? Probably your muscles were completely relaxed, free of tension. What was your mind doing? Nothing but feeling the cool breeze pass over your face and the sound of the waves lapping the hot sand.
The next time you need to relax, remember this feeling, and allow your body to sink back into it. How? What I’ve found works best for me is to unplug. Turn off your phone and put it out of sight. Turn off the TV and remove yourself from anything that reminds you of what needs to be done, whether it’s work left on your desk or that home reno project. The outdoors is not a bad setting for this.
Mindfulness is simply the practice of being aware of your thoughts. Left to their own devices, our thoughts will always run wild. This automatic spinning wheel of thought can take us into anger, anxiety, and other unproductive mental destinations.
When we observe our mind, and allow negative thoughts to pass without giving them the fuel to turn into a raging fire that can take over our life, we can replace these thoughts with optimism, contentment, and mental quiet.
Meditation is the best practice I’ve found to bring more peace into my life. If you’ve never tried it, it’s time to change that. Some of the most successful people I know say that it’s the fundamental habit, one that allows you to be more effective in all other areas of your life. I was introduced to the practice fifteen years ago through this great book, and it has served me well. Here’s a great introduction to the art of meditation from one of my favorite authors.
The universe is such an interesting place! I want to explore every last corner of the planet, read all the best books, and have daily adventures that make Hunter S. Thompson look like a nun. But I can’t. At least, not all at once.
I have to be selective. Not too many years ago I was simultaneously trying to build a business, write a novel, hold down a full-time job, have an extraordinary social life, and learn a half-dozen skills like how to play guitar. I was chasing so many dreams that I almost made myself sick. I was making an inch of progress on a million fronts but not seeing great results in any one. Then I changed my strategy, diverting 90% of my energy to building a successful business. Almost immediately that business began to grow.
Now I get up each morning and at the end of my meditation ask myself “what is my most essential task for today?” For this reason I almost always have productive days. If I went back to juggling 50 projects in one day all I would do is frustrate myself. No thanks.
We’ve all been wronged and the people responsible are probably not sorry, if they are even aware of our hurt. Holding a grudge does not make it better. In fact, constantly thinking about these wrongs only serves to hurt you.
The antidote is always forgiveness. This doesn’t mean that you condone the bad behaviour, or that you forget about it. Forgiveness is a decision you make to stop letting other people’s behavior have power over your happiness. You are in control of your mind.
Does forgiveness take time? Normally, yes. But it will be easier to do when you understand clearly that the faster you forgive, the quicker you can free up a whole lot of mental and emotional energy that could be better used to build the incredible life that you deserve.
Freedom is not something granted to us by a political system. It’s something we create over time through our choices. You have the power to take control of your external and internal worlds, and that’s a freedom worth pursuing.
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