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The essence of freedom is the ability to lead an independent, autonomous life. The exercise of individuality, which is synonymous with autonomy, means to be able to control your life from within your own mental and emotional resources and not be controlled by others or the environment.
Yet you exercise personal freedom for your own benefit and also, because of our total interrelatedness, for the benefit of the community; and you live autonomously as an interdependent member of that community.
Excessive individualism, isolationism and resistance to just laws designed for the common good appear to some as consistent with personal freedom and autonomy but they are instead the product of negative and rigid thinking. An undue focus on not being tied down or dependent on others avoids the truth that we are both individuals and social beings living in the society of others. We are autonomous and interdependent and co-exist in a community which is a part of the wider universal community of humankind. This implies however that the community allows the individual the freedom to think freely, know clearly and grow completely.
Your freedom is assured by your contact with the world rather than threatened by it. Your sense of smell, sight, touch, hearing or taste is your ‘contact boundary’ with the world, not your protective shield against it. When you think of yourself as isolated and alone you cease to be a sensing, alive and free person.
You are not made up exclusively from either your genes or from your environment. Nor are your decisions based exclusively on instincts, emotions, or intuitions; neither exclusively from the nonconscious nor the conscious mind.
True freedom requires the courage to trust your intuition, honor your convictions and stay grounded in a continuous process of reflection and choice through social interaction. In this way freedom can itself create for you the elements of a new environment, a new and more authentic life. Freedom is born in the process of considering real conditions, of weighing and choosing between alternatives of action in your life as lived in the here and now.
Experiencing life through the prism of freedom puts things in perspective and reduces the gap between appearance and reality. Becoming more aware of your conditioned thinking and behavior patterns creates genuine freedom, though it is also challenging. The lens of perception of a free person is clear and unclouded so that the pain of life is as plain to see as its joys.
At a fundamental level freedom is a love of life, a life where feeling, experience and purpose form part of a unified whole. The mind, body, spirit and environment combine in an original, undistorted and complete whole that is you. Your perspective on life deepens and expands and you see it as part of a much larger context. You begin to understand that you are what the psychologist B.F. Skinner described as an individual but one that is merely a stage in a process that began a long time before you came into existence and will continue long after you have gone.
Freedom therefore entails three interrelated concepts: First, the ability to decide and act in any situation in complete harmony with your values and in proportion to the demands of the situation—free will. Second, the capacity to act in a way that is entirely conducive to your wellbeing, while considering the needs of others; and, finally the willingness to accept complete responsibility for your decisions and actions and be able to adapt to the demands and opportunities of life.
The freedom you seek is the highest degree of human fulfillment from which all our other wants and needs flow with ease and grace like ‘nectar from the gods.’ That is the freedom to Be You—to be your authentic self.
Freedom is the greatest desire of humankind and the most cherished of all universal values. Personal Freedom is not only an inalienable human right it is the most fundamental of all human needs. Freedom is a powerful motivating drive though it still remains a mystery for many, “a paradox ungraspable by our reason, yet the deepest thirst of our heart.”
Freedom in Adaptive Freedom is the capacity to decide and act in any situation in complete harmony with your values and in proportion to the demands of the situation. It means the opportunity to act in a manner that is entirely conducive to your well-being, while considering the needs of others and with complete responsibility for your decisions and actions.
Adaptive Freedom implies being able to adapt yourself to the demands and opportunities of life. It presumes an ability to exercise choice and make decisions in a responsible way. Choice is the essence of freedom and freedom is all about making choices. The ultimate measure of freedom is that you are fully responsible for yourself and the choices you make.
This implies acting out of a sense of your values rather than your passions or desires, and achieving balance and equilibrium through a continuing process of self-fulfillment.
This type of freedom is epitomized by peace of mind which is essentially the absence of distress. This is a freedom to live a life of meaning and purpose, a life of happiness and contentment—the freedom to live well.
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