Freedom – we all talk about it, long for it. But what exactly does it mean? We all tend to use this word often in everyday life. But do we ever take the time to truly think about what’s behind it?

Fact is, there is no such thing as “one true” definition of freedom, as it all depends on personal viewpoints and interpretations. To some, freedom might mean not being dependent on anyone; to others, it is financial freedom. And then, there are the notions of having freedom to choose our careers, where we live, what we do, how we explore the world, the freedom of traveling without boundaries. Quite frankly, we could go on.

But the real question is: Is freedom mainly about what we have or not have, in terms of material things? There is a deeper understanding of the word itself, and it refers back to our very mind and the concept of truly being ourselves.

Pure Freedom Is a Mindset

Tropical Morning

A tropical morning setting by the water, as mist is slowly lifting over the scene – Cairns, Australia

Freedom starts in our heads. We need to liberate ourselves from constraints and ultimately free our minds from negativity, toxic influences, and all the ideologies and ideals that exist in our society but do not speak to or serve us. True freedom is implanted in the mind. The way we think, act, and approach life in general. It’s the breaking free, mentally, from the chains of expectations and visions imposed on us by others.

Looking at the image, a calmness is overcoming us. Like the mist hovering over the layers of trees on the horizon, our minds are oftentimes fogged, blurred, by all that’s around us. This prevents us from seeing that freedom is indeed possible. But like the boat, we might be slowly, but steadily, hanging on to guide our minds through the chaos, to eventually reach the clear space – the calm waters at dawn, highlighting a new beginning – that particular higher, clearer, freer state of mind. Completely unattached.

Life is a celebration. Free your mind to find the liberation. – Debasish Mridha

It’s all about how we approach life – as with so many things. If we humbly think that we are rich with what we have, then it is so. This way of thinking will manifest in our actions and ultimately liberate us as individuals; it shakes off the mental burden we carry around and opens our minds and hearts to so much more. If we, however, are never satisfied with anything, constantly strive to be and have what our neighbor does without acknowledging the gift of our very own existence, we are technically not free. This is because we are making ourselves subject to those imprisoning thoughts of not being enough per se. With this approach to life, we take away our own liberty. And, in return, only we have the means to get it back.

Freedom Is Mutual

We can be both physically and emotionally free, whereas the latter is the ultimate foundation. This also means that we need to understand that we might not be the only ones trying to detach our minds from what’s influencing it. Others may be striving for it, too. And this is the point where we can achieve an even higher state of mental independence: by supporting others to do the same.

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. – Nelson Mandela

No true freedom for ourselves can exist when we suppress others in their aspirations to break free from their chains – physically and emotionally – and to achieve their true state of being. Let’s remember that.

The Freedom to “Be”

Santa Wheel

Santa Wheel: The Santa Monica Pier during a dreamy sunset – Los Angeles, USA

Once we have set ourselves free from all the enslaving thoughts and allow our minds to get back to a pure reset, it’s easier for us to understand who we as a person really are. This, ultimately, comes with the desire of truly being our inner self. Being free from the chains of societal norms and stigmas imposed on us allows us to act and choose our own lifestyle – from dusk ‘til dawn.

Freedom is […] the right to find how we ought to live in order to fulfill our potential. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We need to reach the state where we not just know, but deeply feel, that this is what and who we are; that everything we pursue is aligning with our personal selves. And that goes deep. It means we need to be free from everything (emotionally) and free to do anything (physically).

And the more people there are in this world that have the same mindset, the smoother the wheel of liberty, symbolized by the image, will spin and give us all our individual space on this earth, a place to be free and enjoy ourselves – just as the Santa Monica Pier at sunset can be seen as a representation of exactly this idea.