Freedom stands for something greater than just the right to act however I choose—it also stands for securing to everyone an equal opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To most reasonable people, freedom means more than just ‘free to do whatever I want’. Taken literally, that approach would produce anarchy—every man, woman, and child for himself or herself. Fortunately, none of us has to live that way (unless you’re reading this in Somalia or a similar disaster area). Certainly freedom does mean the right to do as one pleases—to think, believe, speak, worship (or not worship), move about, gather, and generally act as you choose—but only until your choices start to infringe on another person’s freedom, then your freedom has to be controlled. When you act free at the expense of someone else’s freedom, it is no longer freedom. I would rather talk about the freedom of the mind of external constraints. How True Freedom Starts with Your Mind It could be rather cliche that I would post an article about freedom on Independence Day. But, what can I say? The holiday got me thinking about all of the various connotations of freedom and independence. Yes, the holiday is about the literal freedom and independence of a nation and its people. But, there's so much delicious metaphor and meaning surrounding the notion of being free and independent. Free from shacklesTo truly set yourself free from all that shackles you so as to live in a individual state of freedom, it starts in the mind. It's the only environment over which we have total control. Once you allow yourself to clean out your mind environment, you'll feel free in many new and expansive ways. What currently binds you into a certain way of thinking? It usually comes down to habitual thought patterns. Dr. Martha Beck says habitual thoughts are "like ruts in a dirt road. The mind slips into them over and over, and at first, steering down another route is extremely difficult." They can come from years of doing things the same way, or from being attached to old beliefs that we were conditioned early on to believe, or from a feeling of safety that can wash over you just from the familiarity of habitual thinking. Here are some thoughts on how to free your mind which will open up all kinds of space for new thoughts and a new way of living your life. Free up the old - make note of how you've been conditioned to think about things. Where are you shackled? Don't worry about making changes. Just ask the questions and then watch where your mind goes. No judgment, just information. Free the Yes - turn off your automatic No. Observe when you're quick to say no. Instead, just say Yes for a change. Look at what happens. Start with a whole day, then a week, then a month. That action alone will expand your life. Free the right brain - dive unabashedly into a creative project that takes you out of your comfort zone. Paint, write a poem, build a table, create a show. Even if it's just for you. Genius flourishes in the right brain! Free your words - let both your critical and emotional thinking come through in your words. Tell people how you feel! Use the words "love" and "want" and "believe" and "yes" often and without the fear of being judged. Free your judgment - of self and others. It's a weight that imprisons your thoughts, spirit, body and actions. Free your stuff - purge, purge, purge. Clean out your space at least twice a year. Free space allows for clarity and for more good stuff to come into your life. Free your ideas about money - Barbara Wilder in the book "Money is Love" says "money is energy and thought directs energy; we must be able to consciously direct the flow of money/energy in our lives." Free your control - this is the ultimate. This is where progress gets stuck in the guise of perfection. Be gentle for starters. Be clear in your intentions but let go of any specific result. Allow your intentions, buoyed by true desire and belief, guide your next steps. Let go and let flow. The same goes for trying to control other's actions. This not only imprisons them, but imprisons you as well. Let go and let flow. Wow, see how the freedom of mind can spread out into other areas of our lives? It's all connected. Free your thoughts, free your actions, free your life. Now that's something to celebrate on Independence Day.