"Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms, to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." --Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
As our nation moves into its 233rd year of independence from Great Britain, we find ourselves, in many ways, more enslaved than ever before. Exterior forces such as more government regulation and requirements, an adherence to a world standard which, by its own accord negates our Declaration of Independence, and most importantly the abdication of our own inner personal freedoms carve a path of confinement rather than liberty.
More and more, we self-impose limitations on our worth, our value, our integrity. We believe what we see around us and assume the illusion is real. We do daily battle with the very spirit inside us and shackle our potential in chains of obligation and expectations. Worst of all, we imprison our creativity by denying ourselves freedom of possibility and fantastic possibility. As we notice these precious freedoms falling prey to our thoughts and fears, we understand the importance of the freedom of our minds.
Freedom of Attitude
As Frankl pointed out in his masterpiece, Man's Search for Meaning, the one true freedom remains the ability to choose one's attitude in any given situation. Many present-day spiritual leaders remind us of our choice of perspective and stress the importance our outlook holds over the outcome of many day-to-day decisions and behaviors. Mother Theresa taught us to "see God" in every person we meet. When we shift our attitudes, and hence our automatic observations, from seeing problems to finding the good and God in everyone and everything we encounter, we reach levels of happiness and positive energy which bring us peace of mind.
Freedom of Potential
As a young girl, my parents blessed me with their encouragement and matter-of-fact approach to my achievements. Never doubtful of my capabilities, they sought out new things for me to try, new books to read and new ideas to consider. While taking Cello lessons didn't result in anything more than an exploration in string instruments, my parents allowed me to express my potential. As we grow older we rely on ourselves to break free from the limitations of self-doubt and entertain the full symphony of our own potential. No one can express your potential but you! Your vision, your drive, your confidence work in concert with your spirit to express the crescendo of your abilities in harmonious orchestration by living a life worthy of all your talents. You are the conductor holding the baton of purpose and directing your life.
Freedom to grow
An adolescent told me once that his pet alligator would never outgrow the fish tank he called home. He said that alligators only grow to the size of their container. While I don't know if this holds true or not, it presents an interesting spiritual consideration. When you examine the expanse of the container of your spirit, you gauge your ability to change and grow from the allowance of space permitted yourself. If you limit your spiritual environment to a small community of like minded individuals, this may feed your soul, but leave you hungry for the nutrients only bountiful gardens can provide. When you sow the seeds of possibility and hunger for more knowledge, information and wisdom, you expand the harvest of your life to include a wide variety of endeavors and experiences.
Freedom to love
So often, we consider ourselves unworthy of love. In humble self-deprecation, we hear ourselves deny our lovability, or become embarrassed when someone acknowledges how much we mean to them. As Gerald Jampolsky pointed out, "Love is the total absence of fear." When we live in fear, we live not only outside of love, but inside the confines of stagnation. In giving ourselves the freedom to love - to give, to receive, and truly accept love - we fill our lives with the warmth that only sincere expressions of emotion bring.
Louise Hay teaches us that we are the only thinker in our minds. You alone are responsible for your thoughts - whether they empower you or destroy your spirit. The freedom of your mind knows no boundary but what you draw around you. When we use the power of attitude to view life in a more positive way, we find we free ourselves from the doubt of our potential; we allow ourselves to continue to learn and grown in magnificent ways and to experience love to our fullest and best imagination!