We all crave independence, freedom from the constraints of daily life and the mill grind. It’s easy to make the mistake of equating personal freedom with striking it rich or running off to live in isolation without running water.
You don’t have to win the lottery or become a mountaintop guru to experience personal freedom if you change the way you think and approach life. You can move toward more freethinking, a concept that revolves around freeing the mind from preconceived notions or popular beliefs, simply by using the four tips below.
1. Accept Failure Is A Possibility
The chance of failing or being wrong scares a lot of people, but this also keeps you from being completely independent because you might not try something you really want to do out of fear. Nothing ventured, nothing gained is 100-percent accurate, so who knows what you might miss out on if you’re afraid of falling on your face or screwing up?
Approach uncertain situations with a measured eye, but make a commitment to keep fear at bay. While you don’t want to be reckless, you still need to know when your own fears are your biggest obstacle. Make a list of pros and cons if you’re struggling to make a decision. Review the cons to see how much your own fears are at play in your thinking process before you make your final choice.
2. Question Everything
Questioning the what, where, how and particularly the why of everything around you and in your life is a hallmark of freethinking. If you get into the habit of questioning things, you’ll become less likely to accept popular notions at face value without forming your own opinions. Questioning short-circuits “groupthink,” a psychological phenomenon that happens when groups of people share the same thoughts for the sake of conformity and anonymity.
If you’re not a big questioner now, it can take some getting used to. Try some exercises to ease yourself into the habit. Read a newspaper, for example, and instead of just accepting the information in the articles, ask yourself questions about what you’re reading. Research the answers to questions you have to get a different perspective on things and use what you’ve learned to form your own opinions.
3. Lose Old Baggage
One of the biggest challenges of freethinking is letting your current school of thought go. Children are generally taught to conform, whether it is from parents, friends, school or a combination of all three. Even if you don’t realize it all the time, you’re probably holding onto ideas and beliefs with which you don’t fully agree that came from someone else.
Start writing down your current beliefs, ideals and lines of thinking; this won’t be a quick exercise, and you’ll probably find yourself adding to the list quite often. Take a long, hard look at what you believe and critically re-evaluate notions with which you were never entirely comfortable. Don’t be afraid to let ingrained concepts, ideas or beliefs go, as thinking entirely for you is one of the bedrocks of true personal independence.
4. Have Some Alone Time
Being alone is commonly associated with great thinkers and philosophers. You don’t have to be alone all the time, since, let’s face it, it would get pretty lonely and boring eventually, but you should plan to be alone sometimes to give yourself time to reflect and meditate for a clearer mind.
Schedule some alone time on a reoccurring basis, whether it be once a month or once a week. Even if it’s just a quiet bath or 10-minute walk in an empty park, use that time to gather your thoughts and let some things go.