Let’s be honest, every year that passes seems to bring new norms, new expectations, and new pressures. We really do live in a society. Even when nothing changes, the daily grind can begin to wear you down mentally. Corporations and governments will demand every ounce of attention you have and use it against you. Often it can feel like you just aren’t cut out for what society demands from us, and rightfully so.

So, how can we gain personal freedom from this system? Homelessness isn’t attractive, but neither is working a dead-end job for 50 years to enjoy your last 20 as you think back on all the time you didn’t spend living life. I may not have more life experience than everyone else reading this, but these simple mindsets are applicable to each and every one of us.

Take Back Control of Your Mind

You can’t always pick where you are physically at any given time of day, but the space between your ears is yours 24/7. This is where we weigh important decisions and wrestle with our thoughts and emotions. Unfortunately, we aren’t always as in control as we think we are. Look at your desires objectively, even the ones you consider to be “needs.” Is it really you that wants this? Or is it an idea planted in your head by society?

 

Image: Piqsels

Meditate and practice mindfulness to become more aware of where your emotions and thoughts come from, as well as to separate yourself from them. When we are at the whim of our thought process, it’s scary how easily we can be manipulated into disregarding our own wants and needs. A simple 5-minute meditation every day can remind us of what it feels like to be present and aware. Exercising this mindfulness throughout the day is absolutely key to taking back control of your mind and setting your own agendas once again.

A Cog in the Machine… Sometimes

Let’s face it, you could pack it up and go live in the wilderness if you really tried. Even a van and odd jobs might be enough to satisfy you. But if you’re like me, you happen to enjoy many parts of living in society. For me, it’s my house and the hot showers. My family, my friends, and convenient travel give me life! It’s not betraying yourself to be a part of the “system.” Going to work every day to pay for bills and put money in a 401k doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your individuality.

Finding the right balance of work and life is essential to feeling like yourself and being content with where you are at. It’s your life and your timeline! Finding employment that aligns with your values and allows you a life outside of work is priceless. Nearly every single person in your life will have an opinion on where you should go and what you should do, but only you truly know when something is right.

Stop thinking of your career as the defining characteristic of who you are and what your purpose is! If you can find work that matches your purpose, that’s amazing. Let’s be honest though, it isn’t that simple for everyone. Sometimes we need income more than we need to feel content. In these cases, finding the opportunities to feel alive and have a purpose outside work is a blessing that will keep us from drowning in the rat race.

Get Back to Your Roots

Nature is the antithesis to everything shitty about society. Spending time outside, away from worldly influences, and among natural life is regenerative for your mind and soul alike! Carve out a tiny bit of time during each day to reconnect to your instincts, senses, and kinship with the earth. This could mean a walk to the park or a drive at sunset. Maybe it’s simply laying out in the sun for 10 minutes.

Image: Piqsels

The fact of the matter is, humans weren’t built to live walled into their homes and glued to their screens. That might be what most of our day looks like, but if that’s all we are, how alive can we really feel? Nature is a reminder for us to remember our roots (no pun intended) and the environment that birthed us as living creatures. We have a lot of obligations and responsibilities as we progress in life, but you have a duty to yourself as a living being to treat yourself like one.

Form Your Own Community

As society seeks to separate people and divide us, it’s necessary to have people around you that feel sane and actually care for your wellbeing. Keep those that support you and your values close. Be yourself, and act as a beacon of genuine individuality for others. Become a safe space for other people and watch them become yours in return!

As humanity connects further each year, making the world smaller and smaller, we are beginning to really see the effects of a global conversation. It’s disjointed. It’s confusing. It’s foreign at times, and yet we are expected to adhere to every new piece of information brought before us by the algorithms that be. Take a step back and give your energy back to the circle that you reside in. At the end of the day, those are the voices that truly have your back.

Remember the Big Picture

Cognitive dissonance is the feeling that arises in us when our actions don’t align properly with our true nature. Throughout life, we will all feel this, likely many times. As an example, take this quote from Jim Carrey, one of the most successful and well-paid actors of all time:

“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
Jim Carrey

When I say remember the big picture, I’m talking about the biggest picture of them all. It’s not about accolades or respect, it’s about acceptance of yourself and an appreciation for what we have. Society will pound the exact opposite into our heads if we let it. You can’t look me in the eyes and tell me you were born solely to find a career that will pay for fancy vacations! Life is an experience, and if you aren’t careful, you’ll look back and realize you ruined it by being completely preoccupied with things that were much shallower than they appeared.

A society as advanced as ours is incredible and provides us with many things we should be grateful to have. Despite this, it doesn’t serve society for us to seek happiness within ourselves and outside the system. Don’t get lost in the sauce! Remember who you are, and why you’re lucky to be alive at all. It’s time you took back ownership of your own life.

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Tyler Cowan