The Daily Stoic for March 25th. “Wealth and freedom are free”.

“. . . freedom isn’t secured by filling up on your heart’s desire but by removing your desire.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 4.1.175

In our society, there seems to be a very well defined concept of wealth or personal well-being. Conversely, today’s stoic invites us to think about these concepts in subjective terms.

In my mind, wealth and freedom are very different concepts. Hence, I’ll talk about them separately.

There Are Two Ways Of Being Wealthy

What does wealth mean? When are you considered a rich person? When you have one million dollars in your account? one billion dollars? When you own an island?

What’s your number? How many digits?

The Meaning of Wealth

One might think that wealth and richness are universal concepts, but I don’t think that’s the case.

For an American stockbroker, it might mean a big loft in Manhattan in front of Central Park, a lot of money in the bank, and a Ferrari at the garage.

For an old Finnish writer, it might mean a small house in the countryside, with a library full of books, and an office with an old laptop.

Finally, for a Thai buddhist monk it might mean a bowl full of fruits and a roof above his head.

On Being Wealthy

Are we rich by getting everything we want, or by wanting everything we have?

Since I became a digital nomad and decluttered my life, I have learned that I didn’t actually need 90% of the stuff I owned. Material belongings are not that important for me anymore. I just need a laptop and some other gadgets to work, and the clothes that fit in my suitcase.

As I’ve mentioned before, being rich for me is all about time, not money. So, am I a rich person? Do I get all the time I want, or do I want all the time I get?

I would say neither the former nor the latter. While I usually work on stuff I love -this blog, my entrepreneur projects, etc- I still don’t have all my time at my disposal.

However, I was wondering today… If I was rich -by my standards, anyway- having all the time I wanted, what would I do? And the answer was not very different from what I do now: travel, write, work on projects I love. I would probably be less worried about the bills, and would be able to completely stop for a month or two… Apart from that, my life will be very similar.

Thus, in a way, I think I am a rich person. Not probably for you, but definitely in my mind. Being rich, feeling happy and fulfilled, doesn’t depend on a concrete amount, but on a concrete mindset.

There Are Two Ways Of Being Free

Similarly, today’s stoic discusses freedom in subjective terms.

“If you chafe and fight and struggle for more, you will never be free. If you could find and focus on the pockets of freedom you already have? Well, then you’d be free right here, right now.”

This is somewhat less intuitive for me. The concept of freedom has certainly a lot more nuances.

From physical freedom, to being free to live the life we want, there’s a whole range of meanings for the word.

In my opinion, contrarily to wealth or money, we cannot really enjoy our lives if we lack freedom. I can focus on my “pockets of freedom” but, if I feel trapped in a job I loathe, and surrounded by people I hate, it’s difficult to not struggle for more.

I believe we have the right to pursue our freedom and our dreams, even if that means sacrifices, or learning to live with less. Just being content with the freedom we have been granted is sometimes not enough.

Conclusion: Wealth And Freedom Are Free… Or Not?

Today’s Daily Stoic, “Wealth and freedom are free”, discusses wealth and freedom as subjective terms. In that view, we are not wealthy or free by having all we want, but by wanting all we have.

While I can agree with the former, I can hardly apply that to freedom. I decluttered my life and became a digital nomad to not rely on money, but having time and freedom to really feel like I am a rich person.

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Years ago, I quit my 9 to 5 job and became a freelancer first, then a solopreneur, and finally a digital nomad. Managing my company back in Spain was a nightmare until I discovered the e-Residency program and opened my company in Estonia. That changed my life.

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3 Comments

  1. Mike March 26, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    According to the Austrian and British economics Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992), “Money is one of the greatest instruments of freedom ever invented by man.” The following maintains a complementary foundation to this article:
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    Reply
  2. Scott March 27, 2018 at 2:59 am

    I absolutely agree with your statement……..” Being rich, feeling happy and fulfilled, doesn’t depend on a concrete amount, but on a concrete mindset.”

    Thanks for your daily opinion….. I read the Daily Stoic each morning… And ponder the ideas put forth and how they relate to my life…. And then shortly afterwards I read your blog.
    Again Thanks

    Reply
    1. nacho March 28, 2018 at 11:38 am

      Thank you Scott for your comments and your words. I really appreciate it.

      Reply

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