Inner Freedom And Outer Success

We all aspire to achieve success in our personal and professional lives, but at what cost? Do we compromise our inner peace and freedom in the pursuit of success? 

Inner freedom refers to the state of being free from mental and emotional constraints, the ability to think and act independently without being influenced by external factors, including our own conditioning. 

The Stoic philosophers believed that true freedom lies in our ability to decide which thoughts and emotions we pay attention to, and to always act in accordance with what we know to be right, regardless of our often messy and conflicted internal state. 

Stoic Youtuber,  Einzelgänger, has a popular quote that summarizes why our inner freedom — our life energy — is so important. 

“Life is short. That’s why it’s important to channel our life energy towards essential and important things and leave unimportant things be.” 

But how does this relate to outer success? The Stoics — and most other major belief systems in the world — also see that success is not defined by external factors such as wealth, fame, or power. Rather, success is defined by our ability to live a virtuous life, to be true to our values, and to contribute to society in a meaningful way. In order to do this, we must remain unyielding to the various forces that pull at our attention and impulses.

A person who is driven solely by external success often compromises their inner freedom in the pursuit of their goals. They may become consumed by their desire for status and wealth, and lose sight of their values and principles. 

There is even a popular narrative about the importance of being addicted or obsessed with becoming the best if you want to achieve anything in life. In reality, there is no such thing as a ‘positive’ addiction or obsession, because these things imply that we tie all of our happiness, peace and inner freedom to this thing outside of ourselves. In other words, we are no longer responsible for our own contentment, the external object is. 

Inevitably, this is the birth of anxiety, ego, insecurity, and ultimately, unfulfillment. We see this reflected in pop culture in celebrity addiction, death, and even suicide, as well as on social media. 

If we’re able to maintain a calm and focused mindset, we’re able to navigate the challenges of our crazy world and make sound decisions without being bent toward the traps of hedonism and obsession that have become so prevalent in our culture.