Recently, I saw a couple making out in a bus stop as I drove by. I mean, really making out.
Later, I read a news article about a movement in Vancouver to provide homeless couples freedom to have sexual interactions in parks. The theory being, they have no where else, why not in a park?
Which got me thinking about freedom.
Freedom doesn’t mean living a life free of moral responsibility, lawful living and justice. It means, the freedom to own my own destiny — within moral reason and lawfulness. To act in accordance with my values, beliefs, principles — within the context of the society in which I live, its laws and social mores guided by my moral compass which hopefully, always points me towards doing the right thing.
On the surface, I might think that’s not freedom. It’s got too many constraints and boundaries limiting what I can do. With all those limitations how will I be happy?
Happiness guru Dr. Dan Gilbert proved in an experiment on synthetic happiness that putting boundaries on choices makes people happier. He says, we should have preferences, we all need boundaries. When our ambition is bounded, we work joyfully. When it is unbounded, we lie and cheat and manipulate to get what we want. When our fear is bounded, we are prudent, cautious, thoughtful. When fear is unbounded, we are reckless and cowardly.
In freedom, I know contentment when I know that what I am doing fits within the moral construct of my world, and does not leave me exposed to risk of arrest, condemnation, and the fear of self-loathing.
Just because I want to do something in the name of freedom doesn’t mean it will make me happy. If it pulls me away from the True North of my moral compass, I risk being unhappy with my choice and the consequences as well as myself.
Thoughts to ponder.
To learn more about Dan Gilbert and his research on choice and happiness, watch the video below. I found it fascinating!