Freedom is not the easiest concept to grasp. From the very important things in life, it’s the most invisible one. Here’s why:
- If you have freedom and always had it, you can’t imagine your life without it, it becomes invisible, a given…
- But if you don’t have freedom and never had it, how do you know what you’re missing on?
This is why if your life is static and driven by inertia, your drive for freedom suffers. You are not reminded that you have near infinite different paths of future choices. And some lead to freedom you can only dream about. Because when inertia and sheep mode prevail, you forget how to dream…
We can define Freedom in the simplest possible terms: How many meaningfully different paths can I take?
Many different paths = High freedom
Few different paths = Low freedom
The constraints on freedom are two kinds:
- Game of Self limitations (our own abilities, fears and barriers)
- Game of Life limitations (our health, family and relationships, moral responsibilities to others and financial freedom)
In I Grow Younger removing the toxic ones among those limitations is a central theme, eg. facing and reducing our fears and fighting harmful cultural myths, as well as achieving creative and financial freedom. A deep exploration of the interconnected wiring of life and the relationship of all its components in Time led us to a an interesting concept about how we can measure success.
As you know, we favor a “feeling-over-thinking” intuitive approach to life. But intuition still comes from basic ideas and data points. And in order to develop this massive skill, we need to choose the base and have something quantifiable we can measure in real time, otherwise it’s easy to get completely lost in the abstract jumbled relationships of life’s building blocks. And we chose for our measuring stick… freedom.
A central concept of I Grow Younger is to use freedom as the metric for success in self improvement.
But why freedom and which freedom and how do we measure it?
Why? Honestly because all other attempts turn out to be instant epic fails!
Don’t believe me? Here, let’s try to find another metric for self-growth:
- Health (including mental health)? Relatively measurable but you can be healthy and unhappy and unwise, doesn’t really work.
- Happiness? It’s very subjective to measure and has a large genetic component. It also kind of comes from within, it’s not directly manageable.
- Wisdom/Intuition? Subjective to define and measure between different people… Also comes slowly and I don’t want readers to think they need years before they can improve – truth is they don’t. Every life can change in a week if a lot of right things happen in this week.
- Developing Self-Love? Nice try, but… many people cannot yet grasp the concept of Self-Love, you cannot measure something you don’t know you can have. We want something we all know about.
- Developing Higher Love? Depends too much on the people you meet. And again, if you haven’t experienced it, you cannot really imagine it.
- Money/Wealth/Achievements/Fame? Worse idea than any of the above.
- Morality? Subjective and can actually be counterproductive.
- Contribution to society? Not bad but largely dependent on circumstances.
See, it’s impossible! But why does Freedom have the chance to work as our quantifiable metric?
Freedom is measurable
It’s simply the amount of different things you can do. While it may be difficult to count all our choices, we want to feel growth which means just comparing the freedom of me now to the freedom I had as past me and the potential freedom of future me. This is manageable.
For example Jane, a single mother working two jobs and barely making ends meet, has less freedom than Bill Gates who can not only do whatever he wants, but also influence the whole world in any direction he wishes (for good or bad). Bill can start whatever new project he envisions tomorrow and/or give a grant to any person/project he likes. Jane is stuck to her two jobs which she cannot afford to lose and can only help people a bit in their Game of Self (eg. by being friendly on her jobs)… if she has the energy for this given the exhaustion every day. She has almost no freedom to help people in their Game of Life.
The question that I Grow Younger wants to answer more than any other is what actions can Jane take to become more free, ideally as free as Bill in the long term. And this progress is measurable.
Freedom is measurable on a near infinite scale with the freedom of others included.
If it’s our growth metric, then giving it to other people is universally a good thing (excluding only dangerous psychopaths). And if you want to say save 10 million people from modern slavery, you need a lot of freedom, actually probably no living person on earth has the freedom to single-handedly do this. How about the freedom to save us from climate change with a real working solution? The freedom spectrum is near infinite. There is a lot to fix in our world.
Only people with a certain level of freedom can participate in making the world better at scale – the more people with the higher freedom, the better. The rest are just fighting for their own survival in The Game of Self and Game of Life and their impact for society will be limited to non-scalable contributions – like being kind and keeping a good connection with reality, eg. not sharing fake news on Facebook.
Freedom is everywhere which makes it all-important
The invisibility of freedom can make it sound less important than say love or happiness. But this is an illusion, they are all on the same level of importance in the structure of life. Here is an example to prove this relationship with a simple life story:
When you don’t mind where you go with your love…
You have found true love.
When you don’t worry if you catch the flight…
You have found true wisdom.
When you smile after you miss the flight…
You have found true happiness.
When you don’t care how much it costs…
You have found true freedom.
(a thought I had while chasing a flight, while my love was far away, me trying to find wisdom instead)
Now think what happens if you don’t have the freedom (financial or mental) to not care about how much it costs. Then it’s unlikely that you’ll smile. Which will reduce happiness. But if there is a risk that your happiness will be reduced, you will worry which instantly pulls you away from wisdom and love. And this will happen every time there is even a small chance of missing any flight!
We started with some not at all life-defining number (a net loss of money and time) and it impacted everything in our life because we didn’t have the freedom to accommodate the potential loss and this resulted in the fear of it. A purely hypothetical Game of Life loss creeped into the The Game of Self and caused damage there – and this is how downward spirals begin and fears take hold of our life – further reducing our freedom.
In many of the examples you saw how time crept in as a factor. It’s time to officially include it to define the type of freedom we are measuring.
This is how we define self growth – Improving Long Term Freedom.
Why Long Term?
Reason 1: Give it time to mix all together. There are different types of freedom in life but over time they influence each other directly and indirectly so much that in the end you just have your Total Freedom – the number of all the different long term paths you can embark on.
Reason 2: Give it time to gain freedom rather than lose. Some people feel that pure freedom only exists in the abstract and can only be lost in real life, leading to an endless struggle against the constraints to keep at least some freedom. But this is not true as life also creates freedom for you. For example I grew up playing chess – a wonderful game of insane complexity that gave me so much happiness and meaning and friendships in my young years. But chess is not found in nature, it’s invented (or discovered; depending on your view) by humans. The extra freedom of the option to play chess I owe to people who lived hundreds of years ago. The extra extra freedom of enjoying high level chess I owe to myself and my tutors. Ancient Egyptians didn’t have the freedom to play chess because it’s wasn’t there yet – they were less free than me in that regard. This means that by inventing and discovering new stuff and even more so at a high level, we can increase our Long Term Freedom for us and others – It’s not just lost, it’s gained, given enough time.
Similarly starting a family and having kids may seem like a huge limitation on freedom and in reality it is. But life with kids gives you freedom too, because you can experience a new universe of emotions that people without kids will probably never be able to. You lose a lot and gain a lot. In this case it’s hard to compare basically two near-infinities so your Long Term Freedom is fine with you either having or not having kids, but crucially, given that you manage it well in the other areas of your life like the Game of Self growth and financial freedom.
Increasing your long term freedom means more chances to find self-love and higher love. More experience to build wisdom upon. More self-knowledge about what brings you happiness. More given to your loved ones and humanity in general. Your potential is and will always be limitless. But the journey of fulfilling more of it sooner goes via increasing your Long Term Freedom at every possible step.
And I have no better example of this then my favorite (high freedom) laws of Peter Diamandis:
- When given a choice, Take Both! (my personal fav!)
- Multiple projects lead to multiple successes.
- Start at the top and work your way up.
- When forced to compromise, ask for more.
- If you can’t beat them, join them–then beat them!
- If it’s worth doing it’s got to be done right now!
- If you can’t win, change the rules.
- If you can’t change the rules, then ignore them.
- When faced without a challenge, make one.
- ‘No’ simply means begin again at one higher level.
- Don’t walk when you can run.
- The faster you move, the slower time passes, the longer you live.
(By Peter H. Diamandis M.D. http://www.diamandis.com/peters-laws/)
Our life choices in the context of Long Term Freedom