Why Lifestyle Design, Traveling the World and Location Independence Won’t Set You Free

These days, a lot of people online want to sell you freedom. They say the way to freedom is through becoming self-employed, being location independent, or shedding all of your possessions.

But I don’t think freedom can ever be found by breaking free of anything. Because once you move in the direction to Freedom from X, you start to put yourself in opposition to X. And that’s when you put yourself into another pattern, another groove. Once you identify as counter-culture, you’ve become the thing you wanted to rid yourself of: conformity.

Freedom is not found in patterns, nor on the edges of contrarianism. Freedom isn’t about escaping the 9 to 5, revolution, or breaking away.

When I quit my job in 2009 I thought that that was what I needed to create freedom in my life. And did it? No, and yes. It created more time for me to do the things I wanted. But it didn’t grant me freedom. That was something only I could claim, right now. I didn’t need to be free from a job in order to be free as a human. Freedom doesn’t rely on achieving any specific circumstance in the future. It’s here now, or not at all.

But a lot of people have trouble accepting that. They think they need to do or change something in order to earn their freedom. We think that freedom is something we have to protect and fight for. As soon as you start thinking that, it’s already too late. You’re in another pattern of you vs. them. Freedom has no home, it’s alien to all patterns.

No one can take away your freedom.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what freedom means to me. Is it the absence of desire? Detachment? The ability to do whatever I want?

What I found is that…

Freedom is the absence of conditioning

It sounds simple, but being free of conditioning is a hard thing to do. We spend most of our lives submitting to ideas, beliefs, perspectives, and patterns that are false. They keep us confined and keep us from experiencing life.

Because that’s the sad part: you can’t experience life right now when you’re trapped in a pattern. You’re looking through the lens of conformity and distortion. What was once alive has been filtered and processed down to an automatic response.

You can’t listen to another person when you’re formulating a response. And you can’t experience life when you’re caught in a pattern of thinking. As soon as you say “this is the way,” you have stopped living.

Freedom is not for sale

Just as no change in circumstance can bring you freedom, you can’t buy freedom either. No one can sell you a guide or solution that will give you what you need to liberate yourself. A lot of people like to claim they can help you become free with this new system or this or that change. It’s all bullshit.

The only thing that will set you free is… curiosity. Deep, sincere inquiry. This is a quality that I attempt to cultivate in myself, and is something that I think can serve you for life.

I’m not here to say that things like lifestyle design, location independence, or self-employment are wrong or that they don’t enhance your life. But to say they are necessary to being free is misleading, and simply not true. And evangelizing it as the way just puts you in another pattern.

So yeah, you can master lifestyle design, travel the world, and hack your personal growth, but that won’t make you free.

Radical, sincere, and fiery inquiry is the only medicine potent enough to burn through conditioning. Then, whatever action you take is rooted in insight, not just responding to what other people think will set you free.

The truth is, your burning questioning is all you need to set yourself free. But don’t believe me, investigate for yourself.

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Comment & Add Your Voice

Sean December 9, 2010 at 3:04 pm

I agree with you, quitting your job, or giving into all the lifestyle design crap isn’t going to give you your freedom.

Freedom is a word that is going to mean extremely different things for everyone. One dude’s version of freedom might be being able to sit on a beach and get paid for it, whereas another’s is having a job that enables him to buy a Ferrari.

You’re right in that it’s not for sale, and it’s up to the individual to decide what freedom means to them, and how to go about achieving it.

Nice post.


Edge of David December 13, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Freedom is doing what ever it is you want, happiness is doing whatever it is you like. The real secret is no one is stopping you from doing either of these except for YOU.

Livia December 9, 2010 at 3:10 pm

true those three things won’t ever set you free – that’s a lame illusion. but freedom I just don’t see the link with curiosity.

I’m a very curious person, I spend loads of time reading, I love learning and trying out new things but does that make me feel free? no way… because curiosity with laser focus doesn’t mean anything. I’m so curious I get lost in that “insight” and sometimes that leads to action paralysis.

What I must say might mean something is curiosity about yourself – that might be a part of feeling free one day. Once you discover yourself who you are once you really become your own “master” you can begin feeling free


Jonathan December 9, 2010 at 6:18 pm

I think the curiosity you’re talking about is the desire to learn new things, which is more of an outer manifestation of curiosity. Of course that type of bouncing from one thing to the next can cripple any sort of action.

The way I see curiosity relating to freedom is through the ability to maintain an open perspective. If we create set conclusions, we’re no longer free, we’re just living in a groove.

Laura Lee Bloor December 9, 2010 at 3:22 pm

I think it really depends on what kind of freedom you are talking about; it comes in many forms. For example, I am working diligently to have financial freedom by digging out of my credit card debt. In that sense, I most definitely am working to break free of something and would encourage others to do the same.

In a more general view on freedom, I define it as a lack of obligation or sense of being controlled.


Evan December 9, 2010 at 3:25 pm

I do think some circumstances are free-er than others Jonathon. I don’t think that many people who have really been in prison believe that ‘four walls do not a prison make’.

There are some places where we have the freedom to explore our conditioning more than others. There are some places where we are encouraged to be ourselves more than others.

Do any of these places make us free? No. But it sure can help to go there.


Chuck Rylant December 9, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Very original thinking here, or at least the first time I’ve read this perspective. Thanks for sharing


Duff December 9, 2010 at 3:37 pm

I agree. So what do you think of this then?


Jonathan December 10, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I think it’s marketing a “freedom from X” which is not true freedom. Even I use the words “freedom to do be who you are” where I’m referencing a supportive environment. In a sense this is a type of freedom, but it is still conditional.

Matt Coffman December 9, 2010 at 3:44 pm

If the absence of conditioning is the only true freedom, we’re all pretty screwed. Even the language we swim in is heavily conditioned. Our thoughts in English use the subject-verb-object structure in order to make sense of the world. We are totally, thoroughly, profoundly conditioned, and “the absence of conditioning” sounds dangerously like an unattainable ideal.


Jonathan December 10, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Oh yeah, we’re never going to rid ourselves of that.

The absence of conditioning I mean is living from thought-patterned conclusions all the time without experiencing life directly in each moment.

Lynn Fang December 9, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Loved this post. I agree that curiosity and your own convictions are what set you free – you can certainly learn from others, who perhaps set themselves free through location independence, but engaging in deep, sincere inquiry means taking a multitude of things into consideration, and not fixating on what seems to be the ‘right way’ or the next coolest bandwagon.

With this version of freedom, you could find your true self, directed only by your innate curiosity, infused with the conviction of your own innate confidence, not confidence borrowed from the glamor of location independence.

This is a powerful post, thank you for writing it!


Brett Henley December 9, 2010 at 4:01 pm

It’s damn time someone said this, and I couldn’t agree more.

Selling independence as being commoditized … well it just doesn’t make an ounce of worldly sense to me.

I’m actually overwhelmed at times with all of the noise surrounding the anti 9-5 sentiment. Sure it’s drowning out the voices telling everyone to play it safe, but not in a positive manner.

I’m a perfect example. I’ve been on my own as a consultant and have found that what I desire most is passion, challenge, mystery and a higher purpose, not necessarily more time to work from home or being my own boss.

I can tell you at the end of the day, no call-to-action selling me a lifestyle change will convince me that my goals have to fit in a box on either side of the spectrum.

In the end, the skin and skeleton don’t matter as much as what you do with them.

Thank you!


Contrarian December 9, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Ok, Jonathan – My entire life is oriented around freedom. I write about, have been studying it for years, and live it everyday, but have never heard anyone say that “curiosity” is the key to set you free. I certainly understand the value of a curious mind, but don’t get the linkage here. Can you explain … or is that a subject for an upcoming post? ;-)

I enjoy your blog and admire your work!


Tessa Zeng December 9, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Amazing post. Your insight is seriously refreshing, Jonathan.

To those who don’t get it: curiosity simply = refusing to accept the status quo. Having an open and playful enough mindset to toy with what others may consider to be fixed truths. What could be more conducive to freedom?

Just because you’re out in the open and unrestrained by jobs, external control, whatever, doesn’t mean you’re being curious about what more is Possible.


Dominic December 9, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Hey Jonathan!

Thanks for the insight. In my opinion, freedom comes not from conforming to the opinions and expectations of others, because we ought to have a mind of our own in the decisions we make. And freedom can also come from just us being and enjoying who we are made to be.




Masa December 9, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Thanks, Jonathan. I enjoyed reading your post.

I think we tend to think that we are missing something, when we already have it, at least as a tiny seed that will grow into this something. Perhaps freedom you are talking about here is like that, too.

I liked what you wrote here –

“The only thing that will set you free is… curiosity. Deep, sincere inquiry. This is a quality that I attempt to cultivate in myself, and is something that I think can serve you for life.”

As Contrarian mentioned above, the (direct) link between curiosity and freedom might be hard to find. But, I’ve been thinking about the notion of curiosity and your thought resonates with me.

I believe that we are all creative (or at least, we can be), but when I tell people, or when Seth Godin, for example, says we are all creative, I think many people can’t believe that they are creative. I guess it’s to do with connotations they associate with the term ‘creativity’.

I bet it’s much easier for these people to believe that they have curiosity. AND, I believe that curiosity is probably what we really appreciate in the quality of being creative.

Curiosity seems to be a great ingredient for other things as well. Passion, love, and perhaps freedom, too.

Thanks again for a great post and giving me an opportunity to rethink the notion of curiosity.


“Curiosity killed the cat? Nonsense. Curiosity made the cat’s life awesome. Even if the cat did die due to curiosity, the cat died happily.“ (Wrote this in my old blog post!)


Fabeku Fatunmise December 9, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Right on Jonathan.

I remember somebody – Krishna Das, maybe – talking about how so many people say that they wish they could escape and live at the top of a mountain. But, at the end of the day, you always bring yourself with you.

Getting rid of all your stuff or moving somewhere wild + exotic or might be awesome. And it might be a step toward where you want to be. But it doesn’t equal freedom.

You can shuffle the outer stuff around all day. Until the inner stuff is lined up, it’s just moving furniture from one room to the next.


Nate December 10, 2010 at 8:39 am

Exactly Fabeku – ‘wherever your go, there you are’ Moving to a mountain top, or getting rid of all your possessions and moving to Thailand doesn’t change who you are or make you inherently any more ‘free’ than you previously were.

It’s not bad to do that either though….it’s just that I think it’s good to pay attention and be inquisitive. Why do I want to do this? Why do I think my current situation is somehow bad? What thoughts and stories have I created around my sense of self?

Chris December 9, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Yeah the freedom you reference here sounds more like an Absolute than the type of freedom most people interested in lifestyle design are looking for. Most lifestyle designers simply want to break free from the 9-5 soul-crushing cubicle lifestyle so we can use our time more freely. I do what I want when I want. That’s freedom to me. Curiosity has absolutely nothing to do with it.


Ivan December 9, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Awesome post my friend :)…this is what I have been going through the last few years…I discovered this when I was day trading from Prague…

I was like oh man this is awesome to be location independent and be my own boss…but this freedom is the negative side of freedom…it’s freedom “from” something…something I have become dependent on..but this will only be switching one object with another one…

after many months of just playing around with “freedom”..and many people associate freedom with being irresponsible…you get bored then you just chase experiences to keep the high going…then I realized that true freedom was to understand myself at a deep level…to become responsible for everything(my thoughts,emotions, mood’s etc.)…it’s quite paradoxical that the more responsible you become the more free you become…because you are less influenced by outside forces…

you quit reacting…so unless you become free inwardly you will always take for granted what ever freedoms you gain in the material world…what did help me though was i did not waste my initial freedom…i used to read hundreds of books and meditate everyday which lead me to a new vantage point in my understanding….I have experienced financial freedom, location freedom, having no obligations, but I I have never felt as free and fulfilled with life as I do now..and now I back to a “job” teaching English at a catholic school in Korea…


Jonathan December 10, 2010 at 2:58 pm

This is an interesting perspective Ivan. I’ll be thinking a lot about freedom and it’s relationship to responsibility now. Thank you.

Jack Bennett | 32000 days December 9, 2010 at 8:54 pm

I agree. Being attached to a concept of oneself as a cool non-materialistic location-independent world traveler and lifestyle designer is just as much of a trap as a person being attached to a nice Range Rover, 3BR house in the suburbs, and riding mower.

“Zenner than thou” is still attachment. :)

It’s like saying “but the food in my prison tastes better and we have a nicer weight room!” – the person is still in prison. Letting go of all attachments wherever they are to be found is the solution – and easier said than done.


Dave Ursillo December 10, 2010 at 6:40 am

The Ego takes many shapes and forms, Jack, you’re dead on here.

My mind wanders to this particular Western Buddhist I had been following on Twitter — just a follower of the faith, not a major figure — who I quickly realized was dominated by his/her sense of Ego. At first I was like, how could a Buddhist monk have such an ego?

As you say, “Zenner than thou” is still attachment!


Jenny December 9, 2010 at 9:57 pm

I thinking being free is learning to go after what you want in life, without regard to the things trying to hold you back. If you succumb to those things, you’ll feel like a prisoner. You’ll want to break free. Be strong. Be curious. Be bold.


Jonathan December 10, 2010 at 2:57 pm

It’s nice to see you commenting here Jenny. :)

Koby Ackie December 9, 2010 at 10:26 pm

This is an interesting concept of freedom. Another way I like to think about it is freedom to be who you are and also who you want to be. In a sense, it’s the act of breaking the vicious cycle of the expected conditions that are given to us.

An introspective discovery, if you will. Great Post.


Yuri December 9, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Jonathan, I love your way of looking at everything from a new perspective.

Many entrepreneurs are talking about leaving the day job and setting yourself free, but the readers, even if they do that, don’t know what to do next and fall for someone else’s freedom instead, setting themselves into another prison.

Being curious about the world around and what exactly you want from it is the way to go!


Dave Ursillo December 10, 2010 at 6:36 am


I agree, you cannot learn to be free because you are as free as this moment allows.

It’s like a stereotypical self-help book claiming happiness is……., and in the end you learn happiness comes from me, not any externality.

So perhaps the merit of these “lifestyle design, travel the world, location independence” books and blogs and philosophies is less the content and end goal of each, and more the idea that the reader begins to “unlearn” the hard rules of conventional living (“absence of conditioning”) that society has drilled into them since youth.



Jonathan December 10, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Dude, you expressed something I didn’t have words for before. Absolutely, the goal of those types of books is to encourage you to question and unlearn the default approach. What we should be weary of is that that unlearning isn’t simply replaced with a “new and improved approach” accepted by consensus.

Nate December 10, 2010 at 8:34 am

I couldn’t agree more with this Jonathan. Freedom isn’t something ‘out there’ to be obtained and that’s the problem. And that’s partly the challenge we face. We’re told we need x product to make us feel good about ourselves, or to your point, we need to f the corporate job, start a small internet business, travel the world exploiting the benefits of geoarbitrage and then we’ll be happy!

It’s not that doing any of that stuff is inherently bad – it can actually be quite good. The problem lies here – when people start to think within an ‘if, then’ construct (e.g. if only I do this, then I’ll be happy), they get caught up in the perpetual circle of suffering.

Freedom is truly here right here and now. It’s about starting to drop all the crap and stories and fantasies we create around our lives….’9-5 work sucks!’, ‘stop being a wage slave’ ‘escape’ ‘break free’ etc, etc. All of that kind of thinking re-enforces a feeling of being trapped, which we’re not. This doesn’t mean action is bad, but that’s for another conversation :)


Contrarian December 10, 2010 at 9:48 am

Alright, I’m jumping back in here …

I inquired in an earlier comment that I’m unclear how “curiosity” is the key to set you free? Jonathan, there has been allot of congratulatory comments and lofty circular logic from those attempting to defend and justifying your position, but I still fail to see the direct connection.

I agree without equivocation that curiosity is an essential “attribute” of the free mind, but I would contend that curiosity is an effect, not a cause.

I also agree that shifting your body or bank account from one place to another will not set you free, anymore than changing your wardrobe changes who you are. This is elemental, and the reminder is helpful, but this response avoids the crux of my challenge: How is curiosity is the key to Freedom?

I hope my “curiosity” isn’t agitating the status quo around here ;-)


Jonathan December 10, 2010 at 2:52 pm

I understand where you’re coming from Contrarian, and I think there are two different types of curiosity. One is curiosity in the sense of “I’m curious about this subject, or I’m curious how many retweets I got on this post today.” This is a kind of surface level curiosity.

Deep curiosity as I would call it, comes from a place of withholding any type of judgment or conclusion. It’s saying “I wonder what’s here, I’m going to simply observe this without any patterned thinking. I want to experience this for what it is, not simply my thoughts about it.” This type of curiosity aims to experience life, directly.

I hope that answers your questions. I agree in that differing definitions and ideas of curiosity can make for a challenging dialogue.

Brandon Winters December 10, 2010 at 11:36 am

I love the stand you’ve taken here Jonathan.

I prefer to think of freedom as something that starts in the mind with the action(s) produced from there being independent of conditioning.

You’re right – lifestyle design, location-independence, self-employment, etc. won’t make you free.
As most true leaders in these niches will say, they are only a means to a greater end. They are a vehicle to accomplish something you could not necessarily have done by yourself. They are “running from X to the next Y” until they have the realization in themselves that what they have, need, and want, is now and cannot be found anywhere else.

I’ve come to feel that freedom isn’t found in right or wrong, good or bad; it is an act of now.

Just curious, have you read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now? Great book, this post made me think of it…



Jonathan December 10, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Yes, I have read The Power of Now, it’s a fantastic book. Thanks for the reminder, I would like to read it again.

Thomas C December 10, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Hello. Interesting post. But it depends on what you mean by freedom, and those location indie/lifestyle design websites are all about freedom from working for someone else.

I agree we are free in the Now, but conditioning goes far far deeper than just rejecting a bunch of work norms. Far example, I read a post of yours about your 25th birthday. But age is a form of conditioning too, because we are not our age. Age is a concept that has been applied to us as though real and yet “we” (as in people, society, humans) identify ourselves with it, usually without thinking.

To be free really does require paying attention to ALL levels.

Thanks, Tommy


Jonathan December 10, 2010 at 2:55 pm

What’s really interesting is when you look at whether or not you actually are free from working for someone else when you are self-employed. Because at that point now your primary focus is to create offerings that are valuable to your customers. Is there bondage in this? I’m not sure… I think the foundation of life is relationships and a continual exchange of energies. Our vocations are one expression of the exchange.

I think the primary difference is that when you’re working for yourself, it’s easier to create a situation where you’re doing what you want. It can be found and created within employment, but I think it’s much harder to come by.

Chase Night December 10, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Hmmm. Very interesting thoughts here. I agree that freedom comes from curiosity, and that some people can indeed find that kind of freedom while working 9-5 jobs. We need those kind of people who can find happiness in that lifestyle or society would come to a screeching halt. I have my problems with society, but I still appreciate the people who are willing to work a crappy night shift so I can buy my groceries at midnight when the store is empty of screaming children.

I just quit my job, but it was for several reasons other than just not liking it. But the freedom that grants me is not ultimate freedom at all. It’s just freedom to structure my day around my own energy and creativity patterns instead of being too bleary-eyed to write or study for college after a day’s worth of data entry. It’s freedom to find a way to make money that doesn’t tell me an hour of my life is worth less than a rump roast at the supermarket. It’s freedom to have adventures and not get back to an angry boss who tells me I’m not allowed to have any more adventures until next year. Freedom from the obligation to spend our week of vacation time with our families and wind up feeling resentful because we aren’t on a road trip to San Francisco.

I think that’s a freedom worth having, and a freedom worth encouraging other people to dream of, but it’s just one kind of freedom, not the end all be all kind.

Thanks for this thoughtful post. It really encouraged me to write more carefully because I don’t ever want to sound like I think I have all the answers. Just a few, lol.


Livia December 10, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Now that I realise what you meant with your post I’m thinking this: this curiosity (looking at everything around you with those preset eyeglasses or “Deep curiosity as I would call it, comes from a place of withholding any type of judgment or conclusion”) is slightly impossible. Because we all grow up in a society=context with parents and we experience things that create those eyeglasses. Why do we use it these eyeglasses=pre-judgment ? Because it helps us deal with the complexity around us.

But true enough like Seth Godin claimed in one of this posts – aim for being CHILDLIKE. That terms is perfectly described and features this type of curiosity.

Last but not least: really interesting post!


Nick Laborde December 11, 2010 at 8:00 am

I’ve gotten myself stuck in the trap of freedom pursuit many times… I like like to learn the hard way apparently. Each time I go through it I get a little more clear about what freedom really is.

Self-employment in itself won’t set you free. In fact, it can restrict your life way beyond when you worked for someone else. If you don’t build the business right, you’ll just end up owning your job. That isn’t freedom, in my World anyways.


Jonathan December 13, 2010 at 12:04 pm

You’re absolutely right Nick, a lot of people don’t realize that. You can just as easily create a shitty job in your own business as you can working for someone else if you’re not careful.

David December 11, 2010 at 2:56 pm

This is my favourite song about Freedom:


“It’s a song of the heart, a race in the wind, a light in the dark, a reason to live.”

So in my words, it’s this feeling of self-satisfaction, that you can do anything that you want to do (that won’t hurt others).

Inner peace and, outwardly, going to new places, going beyond comfort zones.


RIJAL December 11, 2010 at 6:03 pm

à mon sens, y a plus lieu de pensé liberté, l’ère de la liberté est terminer à commenser par cet tous ce qui rends le monde et les individus de plus en plus liés et proches


Marc December 12, 2010 at 11:47 am

Lifestyle design, traveling the world and location independence can give you freedom if that is what you define freedom to be.

If you define freedom as absence of conditioning then those things may not give you freedom.

There is no one set path. One man’s heaven is another man’s hell. The difference between lifestyle design and absence of conditioning as you’ve put forth are physical and psychological respectively. To have true freedom, you’ll most likely need both.

A bum on the street may be free from a number of social constraints but is still heavily influenced by his physical environment. Since we’re in a capitalist world, that physical environment is most easily influenced by money.

On the flip side, all the time and money in the world won’t do a thing for your freedom if you’re still mentally in a cage.

As Bob Marley says, “emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds”. To pull that off means living your life on your own terms. While you could call lifestyle design counter-culture, it does facilitate new degrees of psychological freedom since it moves someone out of a smaller comfort zone to a larger one.

Rather than ‘either/or’, go for ‘both/and’.

Lifestyle design, traveling the world, location independence AND absence of conditioning will set you free.

This is physical and psychological freedom.


Jonathan December 13, 2010 at 12:06 pm

I agree with you, there is freedom of movement, and there is psychological freedom. I think where some people get caught up (and where I’ve gotten caught too) is thinking that even though I’ve created this outer freedom, there is still some perfect ideal that will give me “ultimate freedom” somewhere else. Whether that means no commitments, obligations or whatever. It’s a slippery slope.

Thanks for helping me define freedom in greater depth.

Leslie December 13, 2010 at 6:51 pm

I’ve been thinking of this topic in my head lately and you hit it right on the spot! Only replace job with school. Keep on rocking jonathan, love it!


Tom Meitner December 13, 2010 at 9:57 pm

It’s funny how defensive people get when you approach them with even the idea of curiosity. I have learned more and more that curiosity just makes life worth living, but people are so quick to tell me that they don’t need to know something, or they’ve got it all figured out already. I almost pity them.


Nea | Self Improvement Saga December 14, 2010 at 5:39 am

I both agree and disagree. I believe that lifestyle design, travel, and location independence have a strong role in personal freedom. These things are
1) Ways to claim and express your freedom
2) Evidence that you’re setting yourself free

I say this because conformity and living by the rules usually has to go out of the window in order to embrace something like location independence. Traveling the world is something that most people see as impossible. They don’t feel free to do so. It’s frowned upon by some because it’s too risque or edgy. It doesn’t fit the patterns.

On the other hand, I can see how a person who is truly not free can move from being trapped in a 9 to 5 situation, to being trapped in a newly designed lifestyle.

The best way to set yourself free and to remain free is to continue consciously designing/creating your life according to your evolving desires each day.


Rahul Bhambhani December 15, 2010 at 12:14 am

In my opinion true freedom can only be experienced when you become at total cause over your internal state.

Ideally it would mean reaching a level of consciousness where no matter what your external reality looks like, you are able to create your desired internal state at will.

This is what the journey toward enlightenment is all about.


NML January 4, 2011 at 9:26 pm

great blog. I appreciated it a lot. thanks


Marco Lee January 12, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Lifestyle Design, Traveling the World and Location Independence Won’t Exactly Set You Free.

Freedom is experiencing what is happening at this very moment. To live and cherish it.

Sometimes we’re so consumed in finding that freedom but in turn we are also forgetting the small but beautiful things that are around us.

Our loved ones, our pets, simply washing the dishes. If we accept and be happy about our state. We could attain freedom.


LacePavati January 2, 2012 at 10:13 pm

We don’t lock down freedom or “enlightenment,” any more than we are always happy or always sad. It’s something we move in and out of per the energy of our heart/mind. It’s really not all that complex. When we truly don’t give a sh*t what others think of us, our decisions, whatever, they we’re free … in that moment :) It’s really about fearlessness. Fearlessness, that’s freedom. And the more we can maintain that fearlessness, the more free we are. But there are no absolutes.


LacePavati January 2, 2012 at 10:15 pm

We don’t lock down freedom or “enlightenment,” any more than we are always happy or always sad. It’s something we move in and out of per the energy of our heart/mind. It’s really not all that complex. When we truly don’t give a sh*t what others think of us, our decisions, whatever, then we’re free … in that moment :) It’s really about fearlessness. Fearlessness, that’s freedom. And the more we can maintain that fearlessness, the more free we are. But there are no absolutes.


skooloflife February 1, 2012 at 8:33 am

You’ve brought up something that I think nobody wants to talk about because it’s sheds a harsh light on reality. People make location indpendence seem like a glamorous 24-7 vacation when it’s really not. Sometimes living the dream can start to feel a bit like groundhog day. There’s a bit of a lifestyle design kool aid that is being spread through the world.


financialsamura February 1, 2012 at 8:36 am

I’ve tried to do my best to highlight there’s a lot of spoke and mirrors in my post, “Quit Your Job And Die Alone” on Untemplater. Thanks for highlighting a dose of reality. Would love to hear your thoughts!



nataliesisson2 February 19, 2012 at 3:30 pm

My values I live by are Freedom in Business and Adventure in Life. I know that I can choose to go off and spend half my day cycling in the mountains, or swimming in the sea or just reading a book. That to me is freedom – choosing what I want to do when I want. You don’t have to earn that per say you just have to choose it.


Rebecca Tracey March 4, 2012 at 4:22 am

 @nataliesisson2 Love this Natalie – these are my values too. Freedom is all about the having the ability to choose. I think that once people realize that it’s actually a choice  they are making to stay in their 9-5 jobs or in lifestyles that don’t fulfill them, just that truth alone provides the wiggle room for them to be set free, even if they don’t make any tangible lifestyle  changes. It’s the way you choose to look at life, rather than your circumstances, that matters.

JLggM March 4, 2012 at 7:26 am

I have learned that freedom can be achieved in any circumstance, even in the 9-5 that freelancers abhor. As you so succintly pointed out, freedom is action rooted in insight. So, for example, say a person loves accounting. An accountant can work as a freelancer or for an employer. An accountant with self-awareness and insight is able to decide whether 9-5 or freelancing gives them freedom. An accoutant in a 9-5 firm is free to focus on what he/she loves– skill, mastery, craftsmanship in accounting– without the annoying, time-consuming duties of running a business. A freelance accountant is free to do more, in addition to accounting, without the annoying confines of a firm. Both accountants are free when in their own element.


David Stevens April 12, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Nice job Jonathan,
We tend to get conditioned…a lot. Mostly when we are unaware.
be good to yourself


upyourimpact June 5, 2012 at 2:53 pm

I totally agree that curiosity is the key. If you have that, you can create new ideas and solutions that will give you more fulfillment than any of the external stuff you talked about in your blog post!


theeducatedderelicts June 5, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Very thought provoking! I think curiosity is an incredibly powerful tool of the mind, and I agree that consciously detaching yourself from responsibility to become ‘free’ often leads one into a state of reactivity that can be equally, or more, constraining.
If you haven’t already read it I really recommend The Age of Reason, by Jean-Paul Sartre; it’s a very insightful meditation on freedom. 


Livia December 10, 2010 at 1:35 am

QUOTE “The way I see curiosity relating to freedom is through the ability to maintain an open perspective. If we create set conclusions, we’re no longer free, we’re just living in a groove.”

Ok now this makes perfect sense and I totally agree.


Livia December 21, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Just read this today on

“Test everything for yourself– assume nothing– and the opposite will happen.”

I think this and perhaps the entire post encapsulate what you mean by freedom and curiosity being related.

Cheers !


Dave Ursillo December 15, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Perfect. Exactly.

Another example of this would be something like the Tao te Ching, an ancient book of dozens of verses on life and “the tao,” translated as “the way.” The whole concept of “the way” basically boils down to that there is *not* one actual “way” in life, or any particular “way” in life.

Instead there is life, and to maximize it and live it fully, we must be open, fluid, free — and that, thankfully, in as little as being human beings, we possess all of these qualities no matter what.



Contrarian December 10, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Well, Jonathan, I have to say I appreciate your thoughtful response, and respect you for attempting to plumb the depths of a complicated topic. It’s a compelling discussion, one without a definitive answer…a least not one we will likely uncover here.

One thing for sure that I loved about this post of yours is your proclamation that self-employment, location independence, possession-shedding does not make for free man.

The blogosphere is saturated with writers who propagate lifestyle maneuvering, hacking gimmickry, minimalism strategies as a path to freedom. The followers of this “new religion” are no different and just as light-minded as the conformists they abhor.

Rearranging the outer aspects of your life without addressing the inner aspects of how you think, is tantamount to straitening deck chairs on the Titanic. – whats the point if the ship is going down?

There is only one place that freedom can take hold and flourish – and that is in the six inches between your ears.

Keep up the awesome work, brother!


AliaA March 27, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Viktor Frankl (Autstrian psychiatrist, holocaust survivor and founder of logotherapy) described it like this- the last of human freedoms is in our attitude about our circumstances.  I would add that is also the ultimate freedom.  Sometimes you can choose another option to improve your lifestyle, sometimes you can’t.  So choice and options are always somehow at the mercy of circumstance, and therefore our freedom cannot rest in them.  You can always choose your attitude however.


AliaA March 27, 2012 at 11:07 pm

The way you choose to look at life – absolutely.  Placing such a high value on options and choices (in things to do – or not do) is a very American value that I don’t believe necessarily translates to freedom.  There is an excellent talk on TED that explains why more options/choices does not make us happier (or more free I would add).  What does is our attitude towards where we’re at, even if where we’re at is forced on us for some reason or lacking in alternatives.


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