In a time when planning and performance are literally what we are asked to do daily, we need more than ever a sense of freedom, liberty, and the ability to give space to experiences, dreams, and to live “our way.”

We were raised that way. To keep striving – to be better, go further, and reach a higher standard. To be there for others first and foremost – because when others appreciate us, we experience a brief moment of happiness and feeling “good.” We were also brought up to believe that the work must come first, and then the fun. That leisure experiences are something above and beyond when it’s done. But the truth is elsewhere. We need to balance our lives. To give, but also to indulge. That is to say, alongside the responsible self, pamper the self that can turn off the worries (and ideally the cell phone), spread its wings, and enjoy the feeling of freedom and liberty. So why is it hard to switch to a new mode, and why should we try anyway?

Beware, old patterns of behavior

If you were taught to live “on performance” from a young age, you have had something called behavior patterns implanted in you. And the earlier they were written down, the deeper they were stored. So if you were already in five clubs in kindergarten, learning two languages, and playtime was unnecessary, it’s hard to override your settings today with one decision. But don’t give up. The brain registers the first changes after three weeks, and after six months, new connections between neurotransmitters in the brain can already form, so new habits are anchored. And although it will probably take longer to develop new patterns of behavior fully, you can see progress quite soon by, for example, knocking off work at noon from time to time and going to the park with a loved one or cycling alone in the woods.

We don’t believe we deserve it

To do this, you also need to believe that you deserve it. You are not less important than the work or the people around you. You are not even less important than your family. That it’s okay to shut down so you can function again. To have time for hobbies, so you have the energy to work. To experience the adrenaline rush and do nothing to ease your mind. Especially the left hemisphere, which is organized and disciplined to the point of “going crazy.” Give space to the right hemisphere, which loves wandering in the mountains, digging in the dirt in the garden, or standing by the easel. Just freedom!

There can be freedom where you don’t expect it

Search, search for what is “yours,” what you miss. Listen to yourself in what you love. Some people feel most free when overwhelmed by a pile of books waiting to be flipped through. Others are more comfortable when they bite into a big bar of chocolate without a second thought. And that’s perfectly okay because even a certain amount of what we refer to as “sinning” is symbolic of who you are. And you have a right to be you. It’s just that caution applies a little more in the case of sins. Eating a kilo of chocolate a day is not about freedom. It’s about addiction. Likewise, for example, when you associate the feeling of relief and the ability to breathe freely with a cigarette break, and you can’t seem to stop.

Pretty expensive freedom?

Fortunately, that’s not true. There are always options for everyone. Just look at low-cost travel sites, blogs, or Instagram accounts. And how much money is the fact that you’ll pick yourself up and climb the nearest hill for a bit of freedom and a clear head? Or the fact that you make a deal with friends and experience a little adrenaline rush on an unconventional autumn camping trip? That you take a sketchbook and hit the streets or take pictures of your favorite spots? That you’ll take some time for yourself?

With everything, there is a version that won’t break your neck financially yet will be fulfilling and give you exactly what you want to get out of life. But, of course, you have to want it and not be afraid to look for it. And by the way, it will probably always be true of time that it is, along with health, the most expensive commodity in the world. But it’s when you’re rested that you make the most of the time allotted for work (whereas when you’re tired, you’d need even more of it). Plus, a rested head is much more creative! Relaxed and satiated with a sense of freedom or the knowledge that you’ve fulfilled your travel dreams, for example, you’re more likely to be healthier (because stress, exhaustion, and dissatisfaction are known killers, no exaggeration). And filled with the knowledge that you have the space to live your life your way, you’ll become supplied with a hefty helping of happiness hormones on top, too. And then the world is just fine. Because it’s yours, and it’s spinning, at least sometimes, the way you need it to.

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