Stay with me on this, OK?
I want to have an open and searching conversation today — and I really hope you’ll join me! — about this idea.
How does it strike you when you hear these words:
“I’m tired of being good. Now all I want is to be free.”
Does that line thrill you, the way it thrills me? Or does it scare you? Or does it make you feel suspicious, or even angry?
I heard this line a few months ago, from a friend of mine who is — simply put — one of the most good people I know. She has spent her entire life working hard every single waking moment to be kind, responsible, loving, forgiving, understanding, self-sacrificing, loyal, honest, decent, tidy, reliable, polite, and respectable.
And she’s exhausted.
Because none of this has left her feeling FREE. Although her goodness is indisputable, her freedom remains frustratingly out of reach. She’s starting to rethink the whole game. And when I saw the look on her face as she said this line — a look of gorgeous hunger, ferocious longing — I recognized myself in her words.
I recognized in her my own hunger. I recognized my own ferocious longing. I recognized my own frustration that I am not yet as free as I wish to be…even though I know that I am a GOOD PERSON, damn it.
Here is what I want to ask you today: What would happen inside your mind if you let go (just for a moment!) of trying to be a GOOD PERSON, and you imagined instead what it would feel like to be a FREE PERSON?
Don’t panic, everyone! It’s just an exercise! You don’t have to change anything about your life today… I’m just asking you to imagine taking “good” off the table for a moment, and replacing it with “free”.
You all have limitless imaginations. Try to imagine it.
Imagine replacing “good” with “free”.
Would you have the same life? Would you make the same choices? Would you still be in the same relationships? Would you have the same job? Would you live in the same town? Would your days look like they look now? Would you feel the way you feel now?
Does this exercise make you feel thrilled and liberated and inspired? Or terrified and small? Or resentful and angry? Or some combination of them all?
I was talking about this concept the other day with my friend Glennon Doyle Melton, on the final episode of my MAGIC LESSONS podcast. We were talking about the prisons that people (especially women) put themselves into, which prevent them from living expansive and creative lives. We were talking about the burden of perfectionism, for instance, which becomes a highly polished prison, with golden bars. I quoted to her the John Steinbeck line: “Now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” We both delighted in the liberation of that line. But then I took it a step further, and quoted my friend’s line of yearning and frustration: “I’m tired of being good. Now all I want is to be free.”
What if that’s the next step?
What if it starts with you spending years trying to be perfect, and then you give up on perfect, and just settle for being good? What if that is the first step of liberation? What if that is pretty awesome?
But what if you can go even further? What if you can move even closer to liberation? What if you gave up trying to be good, and just tried to be FREE?
I know what you’re thinking. (Or at least I think I know what you’re thinking!) You’re thinking: “What what about morality? What about ethics? What about duty?” Your mind is imagining the slippery slope that could happen, if you focused on being FREE, instead of being GOOD. Does this mean you will slide into complete decadence, selfishness, narcissism, abandon, and even evil? Did you just imagine yourself turning into Hitler?
What if it DOESN’T mean that, though?
What if you were to believe that — at the very fundament of your being — you are ALREADY good?
I’m willing to bet that you are already good. I know you guys. I know that you are all really nice, kind, generous, loving people, who would never hurt another living soul. What if we could assume that — if you decided to try to be free — you would never descend into evil, hateful, greedy, savagery? What if choosing freedom didn’t turn you into a monster, but instead turned you into a relaxed, healthy, friendly, and fully liberated human being, who trusts herself enough to create her own code of ethics?
Also, Glennon made an excellent point about goodness vs. freedom, when we talked about it on my podcast. She pointed out that society, culture, religion, and family make the decisions on a broad scale about what “good” even means. “Good” is a set of rules determined by whatever tribe you happen to belong to. Thus, within the tribe, all the “good” people will always look exactly the same. They are all following the same rules. They are all obeying the same commandments. They are all dressing in the same manner. They are all getting married around the same age, and to the correct kind of people. They are all having the correct number of children, and they are all raising those children by the same basic rules. They are all keeping their houses cleaned to the same basic standard. They are all following the same social etiquette, and giving the same percentage of their money to charity, and they are all in agreement of what a breach of “goodness” looks like.
Goodness, in other words, is always socially uniform.
But freedom, Glennon pointed out, will look different for every person.
Your idea of goodness and my idea goodness probably look exactly the same. (Nice, polite, responsible, agreeable, generous.) But my idea of freedom might look nothing like your idea of freedom. What looks like liberation to you might feel like a prison to me. What looks like total freedom to me, might look boring and weird to you.
To be seen as “good” requires that you follow the rules of your particular tribe. But to experience freedom requires that you follow the call of your own spirit.
Goodness is obedience; Freedom is self-trust.
Goodness is a bit easier (just follow the rules) but I’m not sure it leads to happiness and creativity.
Freedom is harder (sometimes you go against culture and tribe), but I have a feeling it leads to…EVERYTHING.
What if you knew that you could be free, and that your own basic human decency would remain intact?
What if you trusted yourself enough to know that you are not a sociopath, and that your compassion and empathy are innately woven within you, and that you will make no decisions that violate compassion and empathy — even as you stubbornly choose to be free?
What if you believed that your freedom might not only liberate you, but also could make others feel more free?
What if – at every big decision point in life — you did not ask, “What do the rules say that a good person would do in this situation?”, but instead asked, “What is my own truth?”
What if you dared to follow your own truth?
What if you believed the Buddha, when he said, “Enlightenment will always taste like freedom”?
What if you refused to make ANY decisions about your life that did not taste like freedom?
What if you stopped believing that martyrdom is the path to enlightenment?
What if the only thing you needed, in order to be free, was to believe in your own truth, and to trust yourself?
What if freedom healed you?
What you discovered that — for your — freedom IS goodness, because only when you are truly free can you even feel your own heart…or the hearts of others?
I don’t have any solid answers about this yet, but I’m fascinated by the question. This is the thought I am dancing with most closely in my mind right now.
I can’t stop thinking about this idea, and I’m genuinely curious to hear your feelings about it…
Be honest — what do you think?
LG (Liz Gilbert)
My house sold at auction on Thursday! Finally I’m free and feeling the pull to travel to what has always felt like my spiritual home, Southern France. My 18 year old son is travelling with me to Paris and then taking his own path and calling to Spain (also a place I’m pulled to..)
It’s taken a lot of work for me to get to this point and I can’t help feel this journey will be life changing… I’m nervous and excited.
(Just need to find a loving carer for my little fur baby).
Love & baby steps,
“You will know the call of your destiny because it will sound insane”… Do It! Life is not about playing it safe.
This is hilarious by Liz Gilbert! I can relate to this.
By Liz Gilbert
Dear Ones –
I recieved news last week that my magnificent old Balinese medicine man, Ketut Liyer, has passed away.
I wanted to take my time before I spoke about him in public, so I could just FEEL him in my heart for a while.
He was a healer, a mystic, a time-traveler, a world-bender, a mind-shaper, a compassion-expert, a flirt, a comedian, a bozo, a hustler, a magician, a trickster, and a fully ascended spiritual master. On the morning after he died, an earthquake rocked across Bali, as the earth said farewell to one of its greatest masterpieces. He will not be coming back to this world. His work is done.
As for his work on me, it was perfection. When I met him in 2002, I was a fucking wreck of a woman — shamed, skinny, terrified, lost, and trapped inside a mind that felt like a caged and starving wolf. He pretended to read my palm, but that wasn’t even the point (it never was with Ketut; many of you had palm readings from Ketut over the years, and you know he was kind of full of bullshit, right? Guy was so blind, he couldn’t even SEE your hand, much less read its detailed lines.) No, he looked into my spirit, and he was like, “I’m taking this one.”
He told me that I was destined to come back to Bali someday, to live with him for a few months, and to that he would teach me healing arts, and I would teach him English. (Again: total bullshit. I am just as incapable of learning Balinese healing arts as Ketut was of learning English, but he said what he needed to say, to get me back there, where I needed to be, to meet my destiny.)
Then I spent the next two years transforming my life because of ONE SENTENCE that an old turtle of a man said to me on his porch one night. He told me to come back; I came back. And he had no idea who I was (in fact, he NEVER had any idea who I was, no matter how many times I cam back) but it doesn’t matter. The shit worked. Everthing changed because he spoke, and I responded.
Listen to me now.
I’m passing this along not only from me, but from Ketut, who is burning inside me right now, like the fierce lantern he always was.
When you are searching for a path in your life, and you see no options, and you just want to die, and nothing make sense, and you want to stab everyone at the office party, and somebody throws a crazy fucking idea in your face that makes even LESS sense than the abundant lack of sense your life already makes? DO IT. You have to do it.
You will know the call of your destiny, because it will sound insane.
The call will not make sense. The call will not fit into what your culture and your history suggest that you are supposed to do. The call will cost you money and time. And relationships. The call will not please your tribe. The call will ask you to do something you have no training in, no talent for, no safety net about. The call will want to make you wet your pants in fear. The call will put all order into danger and disarray. The call will make you say, “Why the hell did I leave my marriage, and quit my job, and sell all my belongings, and get on a plane, and move to Indonesia, just because a possibly mentally unstable medicine man who doesn’t even know my name told me to do that two years ago, while he was fake-reading my palm?” The call will demand stupid amounts of courage — and by that, I mean to say that the call will require the kind of courage that literally makes you look and feel stupid.
That’s your LIFE calling.
We are not messing around here anymore. We do not have time for anything less. What do you seriously think we came here to do, you guys? Be good? Be nice? Be responsible? Not make waves? Obey the patterns and the structures? Concentrate on getting exactly the right fixed-rate mortgage? Make good contacts? Keep things filed away neatly, and focus on flow-charts? Find a cleaner for your bathroom tub that scours without scratching? Collect Delta Sky Miles?
Or did you come here walk across the miles of sky that constitute the dangerous, weird, ridiculous, messy, ecstatic, magnificent, mystical journey that is the once-in-an-eternity experiment of the universe that is called YOUR LIFE?
Ketut showed me how to start sky-walking, and I have never looked back.
You live that way, and I promise you this — when you die, the earth will shake, too.
I bow to the master.
ps — this sign I’m holding? It was hanging outside his house the first time I went there. Years later — after EAT PRAY LOVE, and the movie, and after Ketut became a rock star who tourists would come see by the bus-load — I went to visit him (he didn’t recognize me) and I saw the sign sitting in a pile of trash, about to be burned in a bonfire. I asked him if I could have it. He said no. But he told me I could BUY it. HA! So I gave him 50 bucks for it. I will miss you, old man. I will miss you.
Be thankful to those who mistreated you, for they have showed you how not to live your life.
Be thankful to those who betrayed you. It is because of them that you have learned the power that comes from the act of forgiveness.
Be thankful to those who refused to help you in times of need. It is because of them you have learned how to do it all by yourself.
Be thankful for the difficult times, for they have showed you how strong you can be.
Be thankful for those who labeled, judged and criticized you harshly. It is because of them you have learned that your value and self-worth come from yourself and not from others.
Be thankful to those who gave you no love. It is because of them that you have learned to look for love and approval within yourself.
Be thankful for the many limits that were imposed on you. It is because of them you have learned to break free from all the past conditioning and create your own reality and your own rules.
Be thankful for you past mistakes and failures. It is because of them that you have learned how not to do things. It is because of them that you have learned what works and what doesn’t.
Be thankful for both the good and bad experiences life has sent your way. It is because of these experiences that you have learned some of life’s most valuable lessons…”
~ Luminita D. Saviuc
Is depression simply a disease as many psychiatrists and doctors would have us believe, or is there tremendous potential for personal growth and spiritual awakening locked up in the struggle against this common ‘disorder?’
For those who are battling, or who have already conquered depression, there is certainly no one size fits all answer, but, according to one of the world’s foremost experts on the relative study of mind and spirit, Dr. Lisa Miller, severe depression and spiritual experience are two sides of the same cognitive coin.
Her idea is perhaps best presented with this metaphor: depression and spiritual awakening are two sides of the same door. On one side is the total possibility of despair, hopelessness and isolation, and a look through to the other side reveals equally strong shades of spiritual satisfaction, inner peace, and connection to all that is.
Personally driven by her own despair and depression that resulted from infertility and a lack of being able to find her and her husband’s lives worth living without their own children, she began, ever so slowly to awaken to the messages of healers and helpers that seemed to arise serendipitously on her path, offering hints at greater possibilities for happiness and fulfillment.
Slow at first, her rise in awareness of how the universe was speaking to her through others quickly gave way to a flood of synchronicity, events that were simply far too meaningful to be described as coincidence. Synchronicity, remarkably, is one of the most important and commonly shared experiences or features of the process of human awakening, and individuation onto the soul’s proper path.
The synchronistic events in her life ultimately gave way to a letting go of sorts, a submission to new possibilities, a release, if you will, of previously held notions of what she thought happiness was supposed to be or to mean in her life.
As a researcher and professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University, Lisa ended up in a position of critical curiosity about the nature of depression: is it a disease or not? If so, how can a disease be caused by emotionally charged events in one’s life, such as the loss of a family member, or in her case, the lack of being able to create a family?
The causal link simply did not fully add up, thus she applied her skills as a scientist to the matter and came upon a significant discovery about how the brain is physically constructed with regards to its disposition of being in a depressed or spiritually connected state. For in her eyes, these two concepts seem to mirror each other philosophically, so why not scientifically?
Researching this with her team at Colombia, they discovered that yes, indeed, the actual substance of the brain where depression and spiritual fulfillment are registered are remarkably different with each of these states, reflecting a genuine physical polarity to accompany the metaphysical connection. The study began by recruiting some of the most depressed people she could find, especially those with a long family history of crippling depression, then looking at people with equally long lineages of spiritual presence.
They realized that the subjects all had a similar condition in the cortex region of the brain, and in the case of the depressed participants, the brain’s cortex was literally withered and underdeveloped, as though it had been starved. Similar to how a plant reacts to insufficient water.
Conversely, when looking at spiritually awakened subjects, those with a rich history of happiness and feeling connected to physical and spiritual realms of our multidimensional existence, these same regions of the brain were markedly stronger, more robust and larger, looking like the broad trunks of healthy trees.
“What we found, was that in precisely those regions of the brain which atrophied and withered in lifelong depression, for those people with strong personal spirituality, there was thickening of those very same regions. The cortex was thick, as if you were looking at a tree in the Amazon, versus a tree withering in the cold and drought.
Depression is not always an illness. It can be… but very often, depression, as every one will face it, is core to our endowment and core to our development.” – Dr. Lisa Miller
Another fascinating thing that they found, indicating what clinical science can show about the spiritual path, is when they looked at women who, “through suffering had come to a spiritual path, with nice thick cortexes, they also had another quality. The back of their head gave off a certain wavelength of energy that we call alpha, and its also found on the back of the head of a meditating monk.”
Of the possible frequencies that the human brain can naturally operate under, such as alpha, beta, delta and gamma, alpha is the same frequency as the Schumann resonance, the known frequency given off by the earth. In other words, those on the spiritual path, with healthy and vibrant brain cortexes, are operating at the same frequency of our home, the earth.
“The spiritually engaged brain vibrates at the frequency of the earth’s crust.” – Dr. Lisa Miller
This information can uplift many of the millions of people struggling though depression and looking for some hope to find their way out of the isolation, despair and darkness of this common condition. The more deeply a person feels depression, the greater the possibility for spiritual awakening that sets a person firmly on the spiritual path.
“The world is alive and infused with that sacred field we might measure as high amplitude alpha. Knowing this, we live into an inspired life. All life of meaning that is not one that we create, but one that is truly in the fabric of the world. We live an inspired life.” – Lisa Miller
Take a listen to Dr. Miller’s beautiful and uplifting story. At the very end she reveals an incredible even that adds even more to this story of synchronicity and inspiration.
About the Author
Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
Those who are called ‘mentally ill’ or ‘mad’ are the voices in the wilderness, the ones who point to the distress of society, the ones who convict it of its crimes. By their ‘strange’ appearance and parting from the ‘norms’, they challenge and reveal that humanity is not free. They reveal that what is normal is but an accepted madness of the majority.
~ DR. DAN L. EDMUNDS
“To Thine Own Self Be True.” ~ Shakespeare
Do you compromise your inner authenticity by not being the real you? Are you afraid to make a change for fear of what ‘others’ might think? How well do you ‘know’ yourself?
These are just a few questions I personally encountered on my soul searching journey. Taking the time to address them has been tremendously cathartic and life-changing to say the least. To be true to my Self isn’t selfish as I once judged or perceived to be the opinion of others. It’s living a life of being authentic, fully alive, and in tune with God – my Life Navigator. A life of peace and freedom.
Steve Jobs was quoted saying…
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
So… take the leap and be true to YOU.
With Infinite Love, LN