Land of The Free & Make Good Choices
September 3, 2016
At the gym last week I watched to opening of the Something-or-other Car Racing Show (Grand Prix??) and was super impressed by the fact that they said a prayer. On national TV. Very cool. I didn’t have headphones in so wasn’t listening but read the words of the prayer and then the National Anthem on the close-captioning (is that what it’s called?). Seeing the words captioned on the screen somehow made me think of things a little differently, particularly when I saw the phrase “land of the free.” It definitely made me grateful for the many, many freedoms we enjoy in this country compared to pretty much everywhere else. But for some reason it also made me think about the personal freedom we sometimes give away or take for granted. I’m not talking about civil liberties or rights protected by the Constitution, but rather the daily freedom we do or do not enjoy as a result of our choices.
Think of the scene from Freaky Friday (one of Lindsay Lohan’s best films – I think it’s funny to call fluffy movies “films”):
So let’s make good choices shall we? This is perhaps a rephrasing of previous posts but it’s a message that is so worth talking about.
Freedom (noun): “the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved” (thanks Google results! I’m not 100% sure who warrants the credit since it’s one of those handy search results that just shows up. Anyway.)
A few (okay, two) areas where I think many of us, definitely myself, could be more free:
(1) Technology use
I’m reading a fascinating book – Reclaiming Conversation: Talk in the Digital Age about our technology use and how dependent on and almost addicted to our smartphones so many of us are. [That sentence reads weird with all the prepositional phrases. Please forgive me. Or send me how you would’ve written it:)] The author, Sherry , is not anti-technology but is very much concerned by the effects of so much technology contact on relationships, individual levels of happiness and societal trends. Here’s some bad news for y’all: empathy is down 40% among college kids. And I’m sure some of the meanness we see online from adults is related. This article shares in succinct form some of what I’m reading in Reclaiming Conversation and it is those points that are causing me to seriously re-think my relationship with my phone especially. I don’t want to be captive and responsive to a little computer. I don’t want to impulsively reach for it every time I hear (or think I do) a buzz or see (or think I do) a flashing notification light. I don’t want to turn to it whenever I’m bored or anxious or even when I’m just not thinking. I don’t want to check it 46 times/day. That’s so much interruption to conversations, interesting thoughts (you should HEAR some of mine…riveting I tell you), observing, etc. I don’t want to be Pavlov’s dog, so to speak. I want to be a PERSON with my own thoughts and discipline, freely making my own choices. There’s a whole lot of living to live with people, face-to-face and with nature and with our own thoughts and even our own boredom and anxiety.
(2) Spending choices
You HAD to know this was coming so don’t act so surprised. Do your spending habits make you more free or less free? Mine for a long time made me less free. Not spending wisely meant no savings for a rainy day (or for vacations or the frivolous things most of us spend money on) which meant that THINGS got put on a credit card which meant that even more of my income was claimed to make payments on things in my past. Dumb. The question I pose now is: if you chronically overspend on things like eating out, car payments, clothes, entertainment, and luxury grocery items, what are you less free to do? Vacation? Save for a house downpayment? Have leisure time instead of working extra to cover your whoopsies expenses or debt?
Are you trapped at a certain income-level to keep up with the expenses/lifestyle you adopted once you achieved that income-level? Poor spending choices do have a consequence and just because they’ve become normal for you does not change the impact. It’s a little bit like jail. You go there because of some poor choice or choices in your past and can only get out when the sentence is served. Lots of people choose to put themselves in financial jail – debt (where your lifestyle costs more than income) or the precursor of debt (where your lifestyle cost consumes all the income) – where life options are limited. Those limited options include where we live, what we feed ourselves/families, what we do for a job and are all because of or for the sake of undisciplined spending. But unlike jail where someone lets a prisoner (lots of them at least) out after a finite amount of time, some people choose to spend their whole lives in a self-made prison, either making the same mistakes or never able to recover from dumb spending choices. I choose…not jail:)
The very good news in all of this is that just about all of us can CHOOSE to be different. With the cell phone situation, simply by being aware of the subconscious pull to look at the phone I’ve done it less. I’ve asserted my boss-hood over myself by choosing to be more free from that tug. And I’ve noticed changes. I’m a little more present where I am and when I’m with friends and family I find myself focused on them instead of wondering what’s going on in my 15 square inch virtual world of a Nexus 5x.
And spending. You all know how I feel about that:) Thankfully I seem to have broken thru my previous tendencies to spend unconsciously and then wonder what happened to all my monies. And I already am more free and the light of deliverance (DEBT FREE) is in site in less than a year! I hope that this process/hope/momentum is happening for you! Or, at the very least, that you’re open to the reality that this CAN happen for you. If you’re ready to stop making excuses – not just for the 2 items on this short list but for bad eating choices, disorganized spaces, too many commitments, etc etc etc – you’ve already removed a huge hurdle to being a more free and happy version of you!
Have a great long weekend! Choose FREEDOM!