Six Practices for a Life of True Freedom
The freedom I daydream about usually involves more money and time than I have. I swear that if I could do anything I wanted, no care for cost or time, I’d finally experience true freedom to live how I was meant to. I could finally go after all of my farfetched dreams. I could live true to myself because there would be no price tag too high or restriction of any kind. I would no longer need to compare myself to others, no need to pretend or hide and I’d be happier than I’ve ever been.
I spend a lot of time believing if I had more money I’d find that kind of freedom.
This is the lie our culture intends to convince us of every day. Every time we turn on the TV or radio we see and hear messages promising freedom of self expression, purchase required of course. So we buy into it, literally, only to sell our soul to another bank or thing that loses its sparkle as soon as we see the next model or trend.
Freedom comes not from what is gained, but from what is let go.
Letting go of our stuff and our time and we can experience the true nature of being free.
David Foster Wallace wrote in This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life:
“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.”
This freedom from our culture’s standards of worth, beauty, and wealth is what we discover through a life of minimalism. Here is how we can focus on “the really important kind of freedom”:
Attention – It’s easy and all too common to walk through life not paying attention to what we do, the things we purchase, and the most devastatingly, why we do what we do. It’s the lack of attention we put into our own lives that causes our homes to fill with clutter and busyness to overwhelm us. Navigating our work, family, spirituality, and finances on autopilot will always get us into trouble. We will never achieve freedom in our lives if we aren’t willing to intentionally set our attention on what it will take to find it.
Awareness – Lack of awareness of the state of our being will never lead to freedom. We will be enslaved to what happens to us and victimhood. Awareness opens our eyes to the existence we’ve created for ourselves and accepting the current reality. When we get to acceptance we can begin the process of scaling back our spending habits, personal boundary lines, and over commitments to create the life we’ve always wanted to live.
Discipline – Minimalism is the discipline of rejecting society’s version of happiness, and choosing real contentment. Instead of basing our needs on what advertisers say we need, we train ourselves to recognize our true needs that cannot be bought. Minimalism is a discipline in which we can peel the layers off, those false self layers that we hide behind, and accept the beautiful imperfect people we are. And soon, it doesn’t feel like a discipline as it becomes a part of our heart and soul that no bill collector can take from us.
Effort – No freedom song has been sung without significant effort. Effort is purposeful and physically expensive. It requires intentional heart battles that intend to change our current situation. The effort of saying no when necessary or letting go of sentimentality is painful, like exercising the body for the first time. Purging our homes of the unnecessary and practicing self control with our money is the investment in our pursuit of minimalism which will always pay dividends.
Care – Truly caring for our loved ones is possibly the greatest freedom of minimalism. If our money is tied up in debts, our homes at capacity with stuff, our cell phones buzz with appointments, and work keeping us from spending quality time with our spouse and kids we cannot expect to truly care for their needs and desires. A life with less to drain our attention is a life of freedom to care for our loved ones on our terms, not with leftovers.
Sacrifice – Sacrifice something and you will be free. Sacrifice your time for someone else and you’ll feel freer than ever. Give up comparisons and you’ll free yourself from discontentment. Let go of your money to someone in need and the generosity will set your spirit free. Minimalism recovers margin to sacrifice over and over for those we love, in the little and mundane ways that have immeasurable impact.
“We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” – William Faulkner
Minimalism is the practice of freedom.
Freedom to be ourselves, to spend our time and money on what matters most, and to love in sacrificial and extravagant ways. How can you simplify your life and discover freedom through the practice of minimalism?