The new American Dream is to be financially free to do anything we want. But most of us don't know what we really want, or what really makes us happy.
In one of Aesop's fables, a dog boasts to a wolf about the luxuries and comforts of its domestic life, almost convincing the wolf to exchange its freedom for the domestic life. But the wolf notices the dog's collar and asks about it. When the dog explains, the wolf is terrified and runs away, saying “Of all your meals, I want nothing.”
Neither the dog nor the wolf are really free.
We chase financial freedom because we think "once I'm free from needing to work for money, I'll find happiness".
But happiness is simply the absence of desire. As Caed Budris says, “Happiness is the space between one desire being fulfilled and a new desire forming.”
Achieving financial freedom will not rid us of desire. After decades of desiring financial freedom, our desire will find something else to latch on to.
The truth is we're never really free. We're always in service of something larger than ourself - a family, a business, a community, even a plant. The trick is to recognize this.
We are tiny experiments run by the process of evolution in service of itself. We are momentary flickers of the ever-expanding flame of the universe.
Instead of striving for freedom, strive to be in service of higher and higher ideals - of what you believe the world needs. Strive for climbing the ladder of purpose.
Financial independence - not being dependent on an employer to sustain ourself - could be a step along the ladder of purpose.
But don't mistake it for freedom. Because freedom isn't really free, and financial freedom alone won't make us happy.
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