Tyranny: the word means a cruel and oppressive ruler.
Liberty: defined as freedom from oppressive rule.
If you want liberty, you need to rule yourself like a tyrant. If you can’t govern your desires like a tyrant, then you will undoubtedly find a real form (or forms) of tyranny.
Freedom Now is Tyranny Later
Maybe you can’t discipline yourself to get out of the bed in the morning. Instead, you hit the snooze button when the alarm clock rings at 6:30 AM, capturing nine more minutes of comfort and sleep. It feels good, so you hit snooze again, and one more time for good measure. Your decision to seek comfort results in you having no time for an effective morning ritual, and no time to do anything before running out the door. You have the liberty to sleep in should you want to, but it will likely result in the tyranny of low energy, poor clarity, mediocre work, complacency, and unfilled hopes, dreams, and wishes. How you do one thing is how you do everything.
You can exercise your freedom to avoid anything that looks like exercise, taking poor care of your health and well-being. You can make poor dietary choices, and practice poor hydration habits and sleep rituals. It is possible to exercise your freedom in ways that make the poor decisions above seem acceptable by comparison. Your freedom to do what you want when it comes to your health is yours alone. The tyranny of sickness, illness, and poor health are the natural outcomes of the exercise of those freedoms.
You can spend more money than you have to spend. Some companies count on you borrowing money from them to buy things you believe that you need to be happy. These companies want you to have the freedom to have what you want when you want it, avoiding having to go without or waiting. The Joneses have a new neighbor. You have the freedom to enter into contracts to borrow money from companies that provide you with credit, and you are free to borrow as much as they will lend you. Tyranny is paying interest on loans to buy things that no longer mean anything, if they ever did.
The decision to have a pessimistic, skeptical, cynical attitude is available to you. And why wouldn’t it be when media designs every story to frighten you about something that isn’t likely to ever harm you, separate you from people who are different from you or sensationalize stories to make them ever more salacious? The exercise of the freedom to choose what you believe about the world and its inhabitants belongs to you. It’s your birthright. But the tyranny of cynicism will make your life far less than it would be had you decided differently.
If you really don’t like to exert yourself at work, preferring instead to try to do as little as possible, staying under the radar and out of harm’s way, you have that freedom (while it lasts, anyway). You can allow your cynicism to creep over into your work, never giving yourself over to the work. You can look for new work, but when you show up to your new job, the same cynic in you will not have changed one iota, and you will be back to believing your unhappiness is caused by external forces. The lack of effort and the unwillingness to do good work will bring the tyranny of an inadequate income, a lack of advancement, a lack of purpose and meaning, and anxiety about a future where things are even worse than they are now.
To Be Free, Be the Tyrant
The personal freedom you want is found in being your own personal tyrant. The tyrant sets the alarm earlier than you find acceptable and doesn’t allow you to hit the snooze button. In doing so, you have the freedom to do all the things that lead to a successful day (successful days lead to successful weeks which lead to successful months and successful years).
When you are a tyrant about your health and well-being, you have the freedom of abundant energy, stamina, clarity, flexibility, and mobility. You are less often ill, and you push the unavoidable health problems far into the future.
The financial tyrant takes your money from you before you see it and transfers it to some vehicle that allows it to grow. This decision, even though it requires you to go without now, ensures you have better freedoms in the future.
You need to be a tyrant when it comes to the things you allow to infect your mind, things like scarcity, envy, and judging others. This tyranny provides the freedom to choose a better, more empowering set of beliefs.
Quality work is the product of the tyrant. The tyrant eliminates distractions. It provides a laser-focus on the outcome you are pursuing. The tyranny of good work offers the freedom to be more, do more, and have more, while also contributing more—and making a difference for more people.
If you want freedom, you need to be your own personal tyrant. If not, a different—and much more harmful—form of tyranny will be yours.
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