Few words fill our mouths and generate in us more desire than desire be free. All ideological movements (from Nazism to Communism) that attempted to subjugate man ended up failing. In fact, we can say that the development of modern societies in recent years has been based on a constant search for freedom and it is fair to realize that the achievements and developments that have been made in achieving it have been evident.
However, despite all these conquests on a macro level, we can ask ourselves: is man today free? Get what you want? Do you check what you want? And that’s when I came across a recently published book by my psychiatrist colleague and friend Luis Gutierrez Rojastitled Live freely, choose a happy life (Vergara Editorial, 2023) In it, he talks about how we can develop all of our personal potential and enjoy higher levels of freedom.
At the beginning of the book, a definition of freedom is given that may conflict with the more popular concept among the general population. Most people will tell us that freedom consists of I do what I want, what makes me happy, what I like, what springs from me, freeing myself from the bonds of others, not having to reckon with anything, going to my own ball. But we all know, and we psychiatrists, realize it every day in counseling, that this misconception of freedom has very short legs. The person who just does what he wants ends with atrophy. Freedom, in anthropological terms, is the ability to choose the good. Based on this definition, the author goes through many situations in which we can defeat what he calls the enemies of freedom.
The limits of freedom
Are we naturally free, or are there external factors that make this freedom impossible for us? or in other words, Is the free man born or made? The author describes in detail several imperatives (biologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist) that can make us think that we are nothing more than a leaf moving wherever the wind takes it. Like a drifting ship driven by powerful waves that dominate it. Far from all pessimism, he suggests that we take life as a game of chance in which luck influences, but the decisions we make, knowing how to play the game, are far more important than we can imagine.
As a psychologist, I especially liked the chapter devoted to him inner freedom. He gives examples of how some people who have been exposed to extreme circumstances (being kidnapped or suffering from a serious illness) have been able to enjoy the highest standards of freedom thanks to the control of their thoughts. Obviously, it is impossible to let your mind go blank and it makes no sense for us to meditate with the sole aim of not thinking. No matter how much we try, we will not be able to achieve it. It is much smarter to purify our thinking. how? Well, I wish good things, Avoid falling into rumination, thinking well about other people’s intentions and banishing from our memory (to be liberated it is necessary to enjoy a certain level of amnesia) those memories and thoughts that do nothing but make us live a dark and gray life full of bad moments that prevent us from moving forward. Like a ship that can’t navigate open waters with a mooring in a port. In that sense, I think he refers to it very aptly Nothing can set us free more forgive to others.
I prefer these brushstrokes, but so many other dimensions of such a complex subject matter are dealt with. Despite its simple, entertaining, and didactic language (it’s clearly a college professor), the book doesn’t shy away from being profound and asking questions that modern man seems to have forgotten. In the end, the author dares to challenge the reader with a crucial question, one that needs an honest answer. Why are we free? And above all, why are we free? Freedom can become a major scandal because of our ability to do evil, or it can become the touchstone that gives meaning to our existence. If we are free, it is probably because we were created to do great things.
I conclude with one of the last sentences of the book that make us sure reflects. He who chooses evil becomes bad, he who chooses good becomes good, and he who chooses love becomes better. There is nothing. You may enjoy it.
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