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Your Personal Freedoms

By: Michael Blankenship |

“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.”

– Epictetus

Good morning!

Did you know that, according to one Dr. Ali Binazir, the probability of you being born is something like one in 400 Quadrillion to the 150,000 power? He puts it like this: “It’s the probability of 2.5 million people getting together — about the population of San Diego — each to play a game of dice with trillion-sided dice. They each roll the dice — and they all come up the exact same number — say, 550,343,279,001.”

– Mike & Alec

Your Personal Freedoms

When you hear the word “freedom”, you might think of a certain political alignment. 

But here we’re talking about personal freedom — the ability to do what you want, say what you want, and feel what you want, regardless of other people’s opinions or reactions. 

Virginia Satir, a pioneer in family therapy, constructed what she called “The Five Freedoms”. These are freedoms that you always have, in every moment and every environment. Take a few moments to think about each… because they are where your personal power dwells. 

1. To see and hear what is here instead of what “should” be, was, or will be.

2. To say what one feels and thinks instead of what one “should” feel or think.

3. To feel what one feels instead of what one “ought” to feel.

4. To ask for what one wants instead of always waiting for permission.

5. To take risks on one’s own behalf instead of choosing to be only “secure” and not rocking the boat.

Being Bored

Leo Tolstoy once defined boredom as “the desire for desires”. 

We all know the feeling — there’s some stuff that should be done, there are multiple things we could do, and then there’s our feeling of indecision. 

Because of technology’s near-constant ability to stimulate us, this sensation is more chronic than ever before. We know we shouldn’t just keep scrolling… but it’s the fastest and easiest way to get a dopamine hit; it’s certainly a lot easier than doing the things that would actually fulfill us.

And so boredom is that place where we teeter between knowing what we should do while being drawn to what’s easy. 

As such, it’s an opportunity to stop doing something meaningless and start doing something meaningful — it’s a signal from the self-aware part of our brain that we need to put our energy into something with more long-term rewards. 

Boredom is just the withdrawal symptom of constant stimulation. 

And while it feels like the answer is to stimulate ourselves yet again, that will only provide short-lived relief. The lasting answer is to decrease our baseline stimulation — to make a habit of spending less time on our phones and more time reading, writing, journaling, meditating, hiking, walking, learning music, and so on.

The more we lower our baseline stimulation, the easier it becomes to work on the things that we actually want to work on — because our brain is no longer expecting the quick-fire seduction of our smartphones, but the long-term satisfaction that comes with doing something difficult and meaningful.


Rejection — being told “no”, facing criticism, getting cold-shouldered, and so forth — is a painful and uncomfortable part of life. Sometimes, being unaccepted or ostracized paralyzes us — it stops us in our tracks and halts progress. 

As painful as it might be, though, rejection is also very common.

So what should we do?

Aristotle famously penned, “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”

Of course, nothingness isn’t the answer. 

Instead, recognize that rejection is normal — and the more ambitious you are, the more rejection you’ll face. 

Just consider some of these facts about now-famous people and the rejection they endured…

  • J.K. Rowling was rejected by about 12 publishers. 
  • Stephen King’s first novel was rejected 30 times. 
  • Lady Gaga was dropped just 3 months after signing her first record label.
  • Walt Disney was fried by a local newspaper for “lacking imagination and having no good ideas.”
  • Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime. 

Everyone faces rejection. 

And the more ambition you have, the more resilient you’ll need to become. 

So keep in mind that rejection is mostly meaningless, advice is only sometimes valid, and other people’s opinions are entirely their own.

Image of The Week

Awesome quote/graphic by Kendra Dawn

This Week’s Riddle

Here’s this week’s riddle — the answer is at the bottom of the email!

I turn polar bears white and I will make you cry. I make guys have to pee and girls comb their hair. I make celebrities look stupid and normal people look like celebrities. I turn your pancakes brown, and I make your champagne bubble. If you squeeze me, I’ll pop. If you’ll look at me, you’ll pop. Can you answer the riddle?

This Week’s Journaling Prompt

Take some time to think through the following journaling prompt. 

Which of the five freedoms listed in this email do you need to be better about embracing? Why? 

This Week’s Challenge

Don’t spend so much time on your phone. There are many apps or settings that allow you (whether on iPhone to Android) to limit the amount of time you spend on things like social media or phone games. We could all use to be a little more present this week. 

Riddle Answer: Notice how at the end you were asked if you can solve the riddle? The answer is “no”, you can’t answer the riddle because the answer doesn’t exist!

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