What Does Freedom Mean to You?

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When I think of freedom...
  • I picture becoming a digital nomad for a year or two
  • A property with a giant backyard and two doggies once I get back
  • I'm not sure if the 4-hour workweek is possible, but would definitely strive for it
  • A big part of me longs to explore the world more, even though there is so much fear right now
  • Truly the best feeling would be what the Japanese call "Ikigai"
  • This takes both domain experience and a ton of self-awareness
    • Maybe you can only feel it looking back on life to see how it all connects?
 

eliquid

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To me, doing whatever I want whenever I want.

If that means going on 4-week vacation with a 2-day notice, so be it.

If that means getting up at 11am and taking Friday off, so be it.

Maybe it just means having the option to do so, but not exercising it.
 
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I've been to 35 countries. While learning about the people and culture is fun, intriguing, and exciting, there's also the longing for home that you get after being on the road for so long. The longest I've traveled was for 2 years at a time, and I did that twice. Once as a digital nomad and another time as a slow traveler.

As a digital nomad, you constantly face a dilemma of whether you should pursue work or leisure. If you pursue leisure, it adds up fast. If you pursue work, your work environment might be suboptimal as it might mean you're working at a coffee shop that dislike people sitting there, by themselves, for 8 hours straight, or at a hostel where they have furniture with terrible ergonomics, or at a co-working center where you pay a high price for a day ticket.

You're also constantly surrounded by tourists and salesmen, who live off of tourists. In heavily touristic areas, you can't help but feel like a walking piggy bank for the locals. The objectification is quite dark. I would recommend you skip touristic places or at most spend a few days there and leave.

As a slow traveler, you can have a normal 9-5 Monday-to-Friday workday, get to know the locals, and enjoy a regular life, in a new city and country. It's quite amazing and I like slow traveling much more than being a digital nomad. Going to a new city or country ever 3-4 days is exhausting.

However, there's an otherness that you'll never experience until you've lived in a foreign country for awhile. In February, I did a trip to Iceland and meet an Aussie who've been living in Iceland for 10 years. He told me, after 10 years of living in this small Icelandic town where the locals accepted him as a resident, he was still not Icelandic at the end of the day. It was quite sad as it was the truth.

My former tax attorney, who lives in Belize and has a Belize wife told me the same thing. Even after marrying a local, he still didn't feel like he integrated himself socially into his new country.

So, if I were you, take a trip for a month to 6 months and go back home. Nothing beats the comfort of old friends, a cozy couch (SE Asia has no couches... which was something I missed a lot living there), and books that are in your language, in subjects that you enjoy (and not ones that happen to be available in your language).

As far a travel goes, you can get a flight to SE Asia for $800 from the US. Just fly out on a Wednesday and fly in on a Wednesday. Wednesdays are the slow days for airlines and has the best prices. Flights to Europe are about $1,000. You can get flights to South America for $500 but I would skip Spirit airlines if you're going to South America.

Check out https://nomadlist.com/ . It list the cost of living in a city for nomads, expats, and locals. The data is quite accurate but it doesn't give you a good qualitative description of the cities though; however, your experience of a city depends on your values. I found Lviv, Ukraine to be a POS boring town but I also meet people who loved it. You really don't know until you go there. My cities places are Berlin, Stockholm, and Iceland. My favorite experiences were going to Chernobyl and Auschwitz. I'm quite the dark tourist.
 

bernard

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Freedom from, more than freedom to, as I get older.

When I was younger, freedom was definitely freedom to do stuff, travel, drink, party, mostly.

As I get older, freedom is mostly freedom from stuff, annoying neighbors, pain and suffering, having to deal with the public sector etc.
 

jstover77

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Doing what you want, when you want.

Freedom means power to control your life. Decide your life. Take no orders from anybody.

This. Being able to wake up and choose what I want to do for the day is what I consider freedom. You definitely have to find balance and stick to a regimen (for the most part). Having too much freedom get you into some trouble with vices. Over the last 12 years, I've certainly fell into the...man, I don't have shit to do today, break open the beers (11 am in the morning). Next thing you know, I'm at the casino playing blackjack..lol. Sticking to some kind of regimen is important (IMHO).
 

Cash Builder

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My definition of freedom has changed over the years. 5 years ago, freedom meant not having to leave the house at a specific time to go and work a 9-5 job. I have achieved that, and I'm very grateful, but my definition has changed.

Now, freedom is being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want. If I want to book a holiday on a Caribbean Island next weekend, I want to be able to do it no questions asked. If I want to buy an expensive sports car, I want to be able to go down to the showroom, pay in full, and drive it home that day.

I'm a long way from that situation now, but 5 years ago I was a long way from my first definition of freedom.

Maybe it just means having the option to do so, but not exercising it.

Couldn't have put it better myself. The real power of freedom is knowing that while you can do all of these things, to keep that freedom you will still have to grind harder than 99% of others.
 

BCN

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It depends.

Financial freedom:
You can buy stuff or experiences. You don't have to go for the cheap option. It can be small things, like buying good wine instead of some supermarket wine of fortified grape juice ... or be able to travel and spend money on things many consider luxury.

It's easy to make enough money to be financially free. It doesn't mean you can buy whatever you want, but you don't have to be one of those people that are still paying off the credit card bill from lasts year's holiday so you can book one this year.

Personal freedom:
You can marry whoever you want, travel where you want, say whatever you want, live however you want even if someone does not agree with your way of life. The option to get an education and better yourself even if your parents are poor.

Most of the people in the western world take this for granted - but for the majority of the world, this is not something they have. It's not necessarily about money. Part of it is money or being poor, but also countries that are rich can have very limited personal freedom (China, GCC countries and many more). Other countries, like India, still have effectively a cast system, and many nations have millions of state-less people that practically don't exist (no passports/papers, no option for education or work). Denying these people basic human rights is easy because they don't exist in practice.

You can still be rich in financial freedom but lack personal freedom.
 
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I've thought about this for awhile and, to me, freedom is a driver for my actions, work, and beliefs; but, I wouldn't pursue expensive things because I have the freedom to pursue them. I also wouldn't pursue experiences because I have the freedom (and ability) to pursue them. The former actually erodes your wealth, which would then limit your freedom (I'm talking about planes and yachts). The latter are fun, and I've had a lot of them; but, what makes an experience memorable are the people you had the experience with, your connection with them, and your relationship with them.

Even though I got to experience a lot of really cool things in Iceland, ones that you can't experience anywhere outside of Iceland; what made the trip good and memorable were the people I meet and the friends I made. Let me see, I meet a divorced German guy who wanted love again. I meet an MD who was ultra-religious and believed that she has had conversations with God (WUT?!). I meet a manager of a grocery store, which was cool. I meet several students, as that's common. Me and the grocery store manager actually went to a bar together and won 12 free drinks during Bingo. We meet up with this cashier, that we meet at a sightseeing spot, and her friend. I ended up having a one night stand with the friend. The manager was picked up by an Icelandic chick, who was at the bar also. Fun night. Iceland is so feminist, that it's normal for chicks to pickup guys there. It gives men an ultra-extra good reason to behave well. It was pretty cool to experience that. In my hometown, you'd have to flirt with the idea of love, a long term-relationship, and marriage for them to spread their legs. In Iceland, she was quite open and straightforward about it. "I want pizza and you need to buy a hotel room, as I live with my brother and my friends are staying on the couch," she said. Obviously, I bought pizza and a hotel room; but, that was the most non-fussy lay I have ever had. Wonderful experience :wink:

Anyways, yeah, it's about the people. The richer I get, the more free I am to meet more people, whatever their background, wealth, or social status :smile: It was already like this before, when I was young and naive; but, now, I think the odd part is that its other people who want to meet me! It's a nice thing to have :smile:
 

Ryuzaki

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I'm sitting here thinking about this question "What does Freedom mean to you?" It's a huge question and I want to keep it down to earth. What's popping in my head is...

Freedom to Pursue the Fundamentals

Something that seems to be happening in modern societies is that the very basics are being left behind. Things like having the time, energy, and money to deal with the fundamentals, with the fundamentals being things like eating healthy, getting daily exercise, having relaxation periods... all the way up to things like dressing the way you want to.

Having the time is self-explanatory. If we're too busy, we don't have the time. Maybe we get the time but we don't have the energy. Maybe we have time and energy but don't have the money. Maybe we have the money but don't have the time, etc.

Part of the way we solve the time and energy problem is by having the money to pay for convenience. I know I can't really afford the time to cook healthy meals every day without sacrificing other things like exercise or relaxation periods.

And the problem is compounded, because we can have the time and energy to do these things but not the money to afford the appliances and ingredients (to stay with the cooking example).

There's so many examples of this phenomenon. People pay rent or a mortgage and are never home, so it's generally just a storage facility, a place to receive mail, and a bed to sleep in. I had this experience in college and the time after it. I once lived in a place for 8 years and never decorated even the slightest amount. Why bother if when I'm there I'm unconscious and sleeping.

So in this context, freedom is the luxury to be concerned with the basics of life.

Then I was thinking about...

Freedom to Pursue our Wildest Goals

I was talking to @stackcash and we were saying that there will come a time when both of us liquidate big enough assets to retire and go sit on a beach. But we won't. We'll wrap ourselves up in some frustrating and giant SEO project (because we both love the puzzle of it). And it'll be a huge puzzle because we'll have the funding to push it to those levels.

There's a level of freedom where you don't have to worry about success and success is almost guaranteed by the brute force impact you can make due to access to capital. And that means you can dream up the craziest projects and drive at them with full force.

This really only pertains to goal-oriented people, but it still works for any type of person. Some people want a yacht or a private jet and can purchase or lease them at this level. It's really the ability to fulfill your desire to both be in control and have no restrictions around you.

So in this context, freedom is unrestrained, goal-oriented passion with no obstacles.

Then I thought about...

Freedom to Contribute

Unless you're a psycho, you have compassion and empathy. You've experienced pains, traumas, setbacks, and regrets. And you want to alleviate those problems for other people going through the same strife. There's a million ways we can contribute at any moment, but to make big impacts requires money.

Maybe you want to fund mental health research into a rare condition and help create a breakthrough. Maybe you want to start a non-profit to rehabilitate SEO's back into society. It doesn't matter what it is, but it's what you want to do. You want to give back. This takes time, energy, and money to do it on a massive scale.

So in this context, freedom is pulling people up behind you as you continue to climb the ladder.

Ultimately, we all need or have reasons that drive us to continue. They motivate us and inspire us to become disciplined. Freedom is the fulfillment of those reasons while having enough time to enjoy the fruits of them while free of health problems, money problems, relational drama, etc.
 
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I'm sitting here thinking about this question "What does Freedom mean to you?" It's a huge question and I want to keep it down to earth. What's popping in my head is...

Freedom to Pursue the Fundamentals

Something that seems to be happening in modern societies is that the very basics are being left behind. Things like having the time, energy, and money to deal with the fundamentals, with the fundamentals being things like eating healthy, getting daily exercise, having relaxation periods... all the way up to things like dressing the way you want to.

Having the time is self-explanatory. If we're too busy, we don't have the time. Maybe we get the time but we don't have the energy. Maybe we have time and energy but don't have the money. Maybe we have the money but don't have the time, etc.

Part of the way we solve the time and energy problem is by having the money to pay for convenience. I know I can't really afford the time to cook healthy meals every day without sacrificing other things like exercise or relaxation periods.

And the problem is compounded, because we can have the time and energy to do these things but not the money to afford the appliances and ingredients (to stay with the cooking example).

There's so many examples of this phenomenon. People pay rent or a mortgage and are never home, so it's generally just a storage facility, a place to receive mail, and a bed to sleep in. I had this experience in college and the time after it. I once lived in a place for 8 years and never decorated even the slightest amount. Why bother if when I'm there I'm unconscious and sleeping.

So in this context, freedom is the luxury to be concerned with the basics of life.

Then I was thinking about...

Freedom to Pursue our Wildest Goals

I was talking to @stackcash and we were saying that there will come a time when both of us liquidate big enough assets to retire and go sit on a beach. But we won't. We'll wrap ourselves up in some frustrating and giant SEO project (because we both love the puzzle of it). And it'll be a huge puzzle because we'll have the funding to push it to those levels.

There's a level of freedom where you don't have to worry about success and success is almost guaranteed by the brute force impact you can make due to access to capital. And that means you can dream up the craziest projects and drive at them with full force.

This really only pertains to goal-oriented people, but it still works for any type of person. Some people want a yacht or a private jet and can purchase or lease them at this level. It's really the ability to fulfill your desire to both be in control and have no restrictions around you.

So in this context, freedom is unrestrained, goal-oriented passion with no obstacles.

Then I thought about...

Freedom to Contribute

Unless you're a psycho, you have compassion and empathy. You've experienced pains, traumas, setbacks, and regrets. And you want to alleviate those problems for other people going through the same strife. There's a million ways we can contribute at any moment, but to make big impacts requires money.

Maybe you want to fund mental health research into a rare condition and help create a breakthrough. Maybe you want to start a non-profit to rehabilitate SEO's back into society. It doesn't matter what it is, but it's what you want to do. You want to give back. This takes time, energy, and money to do it on a massive scale.

So in this context, freedom is pulling people up behind you as you continue to climb the ladder.

Ultimately, we all need or have reasons that drive us to continue. They motivate us and inspire us to become disciplined. Freedom is the fulfillment of those reasons while having enough time to enjoy the fruits of them while free of health problems, money problems, relational drama, etc.

To let you know, your definition of freedom is incoherent. This might be why you had no decorations in your apartment for 8 years. If freedom is to pursue the basic things in life, such as diet, sleep, free time and exercise, it would go against freedom as pursing one's wildest goals and biggest dreams and vice-versa.

Odd question; but, are you free now? A smoker who defines freedom as "free to smoke whenever I want, indoors or outdoors" is not free. It's the nicotine controlling him. Likewise, a workaholic who defines freedom as goals is not free either. When will he obtain that sense of freedom? Would meeting those goals result in him feeling free; or, would he just set a new goal? Is someone who pursues freedom actually free or is freedom a state and condition? IMO freedom is not a doing-verb but a condition.
 

BCN

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Once these made-up terms like freedom gets defined too specific and philosophically, there will be a lot of contradictions and nuances.

If you're wealthy, feel fulfilled, and you can pursue goals you choose, that seems pretty freedom-like to me.

Obviously you could also argue that a person driven by goals can't be free, because that person is a slave to those goals.

But you can always look at things in a different manner:

Let's say a gay person who can get married in some countries, he or she will feel more free now. While someone else will claim that the whole concept of marriage is the polar opposite of freedom.

Political and religious refugees probably feel a sense of freedom when they can finally say what they want and worship their flavor of God and Jesus.

But religion nor politics provide freedom necessarily - many would argue that they restrict freedom if anything (ie. the gay guy from the previous paragraph).

Not even animals in the wild are free (all though they mostly lack abstract thinking so they probably don't lose sleep over it).

Primitive (not meant in a negative way) tribes have social hierarchies, with restrictions on individual freedom for the greater good of the tribe.

But you can keep extrapolating this, ad Infinitum... until the only true freedom left is death... Which is quite macab.

I feel pretty free, and can do most of the things I want, despite being married, owning a house and businesses.

I have to do stuff others demand. So I'm not free, but I feel free. Like a "I can't believe it's not freedom" version of freedom. Good enough for me.