The degree to which we are happy is the degree to which we are free – and the degree to which we are free is the degree to which we are happy. The two concepts are causally linked. As concepts, they’re also big and bold and often intimidating. So here is some basic advice to help you become more optimistic and find happiness in your own life.
- look yourself and your past square in the eye
- get into teachable mode
- put your energy where your power is
- get current with the person you really are
- live life from the inside out – and be uncompromising about it
- let your past become your potential
- let your identity be co-opted
- live in reaction; live in action
- neglect your dreams
- squander your authenticity any longer
“The unexamined life is not worth living,” said Socrates, so turn toward yourself, get caught up with yourself, step into truth, and get ready to become part of your own solution.
No experience in life is ever wasted if we learn from it. So make a decision to learn from what has been. Get curious and stay teachable. Thank your experiences – all of them – for how they’ve shaped you and for the wisdom you can extract from each and every one of them.
The only power you have over the past is in how you respond to it today. Accept powerlessness to change the data of the past while claiming power over what you do with it. Push back against limitations and restrictive legacies. Break free from all the coping and reacting. Put your power where it is rather than where it isn’t. Do something with what was done to you.
There’s a great saying: “We started out fine, then we got defined, how we’re getting refined.” You came into this world a precious and unique creature. Then life handed you some labels and limitations – many of which have been holding you back. Now it’s time to listen for that one true voice inside you. It’s time to update your personal vision and design dreams that fit you. You’ve identified the inauthentic. Now listen for the authentic within you. That voice will grow louder.
Be yourself, believe in yourself, and become the fullest expression of who you are. Be self-determined, self-defined, and do your best to stay on course. Be who you authentically are and who you’ve always been – and be unapologetic about it!
Instead of blindly following the patterns of the past and clinging to negative predictions of the future, take back your power. You have it within you to change course, to reclaim sovereignty over yourself, and to become the architect of your future. Your history need not define you any longer. Your past is not your potential. Your past is just your past. Pure and simple.
To accept a course others have charted for you is to be a follower. To adopt what the world says about you is to put your identity in the hands of anyone and everyone but the one person in whose hands it should be. Accept no one’s opinion as your own. Start asking questions. In fact, question it all!
There is no peace – or freedom – in reactivity. In fact, reactivity is nothing short of bondage. Reactivity means we don’t yet fully ‘own’ ourselves. Instead of continuing to react to life, start claiming personal choice. When you do, you will begin noticing choices all around you. You will get excited about claiming them. Choose how you feel. Choose how you experience life. It’s all within your power.
Your dreams are the expression of your spirit. To put them on hold, to deny or discourage them, is simply to put true self on hold. Take your dreams out again, dust them off, and cherish them. If you don’t have any dreams you’ve had tucked away, create some new ones. Then cherish them. They are the children of your soul.
The best path to contentment is to step into the truth of who you are, lean into your authenticity, and live from that place. It’s also the only way to have a truly meaningful presence in this world. The world needs you. You need you.
Personal freedom is a liberated life experience. It’s a state of being in which one is self-determined and self-directed. It’s the ability to choose, to explore, to dream, to self-define, to be who one authentically is and to be unapologetic about it. It’s a state of mind. It’s a way of life. And for many of us, it takes work. It takes work to break out and break free. It takes effort for life to become more effortless. The good news is, by following some simple dos and don’ts, you too can taste the joy of a happy and liberated life.