RL Personal Freedom is

  • Health
  • Wealth
  • Wisdom
  • Happiness
  • Belonging
  • Creativity
  • Impact

We all want some version of these seven things.

You might have a different perspective on what each means and what’s more important to you, but, after all, that’s what makes freedom so special and personal.

Their definition is difficult to nail down because they are foundational and old as humanity itself, but they also change as you change. Your definition of what “health” as a teenager will be completely different (aka nonexistent) compared to your thirty-year-old self.

They are each tailored to who we are too. For you, that might be expressing your creativity and making an impact through art.

Each freedom (for lack of a better word) mixes and mashes in interesting ways and also affect each other. They are independent but also connected. Think of it like they’re all driving the car and they all have a hand on the steering wheel.

For example, lack of wisdom can lead to poor health and wealth, which could ultimately lead to unhappiness.

But I don’t think I need to write a blog post to tell you that.

What I want to focus on today is what happens when one or many of these escapes you?

What do we do when our health fails us? What to do when our wealth and health are poor?

What do we do when we make financial mistakes and are suddenly struggling?

What do we focus on when life gives us a bad hand or our circumstances take one of these personal freedoms away?

Well, luckily these personal freedoms aren’t an all or nothing thing. You don’t need all of these to have a meaningful life.

I don’t think I’m wise enough yet to say which ones take priority over the others.

I do know that holding on to something you’ve lost/once had will only increase your problems.

The key is letting go of what we don’t have control over, and narrowing our focus on any one of these things will get you back on your feet.

“Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.”

Bruce Lee

If I were a betting man, I’d say that happiness and wisdom are the best ones to focus on.

Get Happy

By focusing on happiness, you become resilient to difficulty. You’re not Superman—you’re just not as phased by problems. Happiness protects you. If you’re happy, truly happy, not because of the material things you have, but because you love yourself, care about life and others, then nothing can touch you. Hardship rolls off of you. Your happiness is a shield.

Happiness leads to — wisdom.
which leads to health.
which heightens your creativity.
And adds to wealth.
And draws people in.
All while leaving everything and everyone you interact with better than you found it.

Get Wise

By focusing on gaining wisdom, then every other personal freedom increases too. Wisdom reminds you to be more healthy. It shows you how to build wealth. It fills you with impactful ideas. It teaches you how to be kind and loving and patient and happy.

When in doubt—

Focus on happiness.
Focus on gaining wisdom.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1037

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“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.”

Michael Jordan

In order to thrive, we need stability. In order to have stability, we need to thrive. A catch-22. (Or perhaps an ouroboros.)

And yet, maybe not. What is stability? What does thriving mean? Is it something external? Free from harm? A hot meal and a warm bed?

Anyone who has started their own company knows that the stability of a job is abstracted away from the business’s finances. An employee at a company that’s doing well is secure. And an employee at a company doing poorly is also secure. The employee at the thriving company will more likely keep her job than the other employee, but both could end up unemployed if something goes unexpectedly wrong.

A job is an external thing. It provides for our basic needs, but it’s not what gives us stability or the ability to thrive. That comes from within. If we cultivate our minds and learn to let go in the face of uncertainty and things that aren’t in our control, no amount of instability will hold us back from long.

Thriving starts is in the mind.

You can see it radiating out of people into their lives, but it starts with the thought of knowing that despite everything challenging going on, you’ll be okay. The sun will rise. The birds will sing. And we can begin anew, wherever we are and use what we’ve got as an opportunity to do great things and keep on living.

The happiest people in the world aren’t happy because of all the things they own, or because of their success and accomplishments. They are happy—no, joyful—because they decided to be.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1010

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Balanced Freedom

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”

Thomas Merton

I think personal freedom most of us want—the flexibility to do whatever we want when we want it—isn’t what truly gives us freedom.

True freedom is a balance between flexibility to create the life you want, and constraint and challenge to do so by our own hands rather than something given or easily bought.

Without challenge, life feels dull. Too much challenge (at once) and life becomes unbearable. Personal freedom lies within those boundaries.

This plays out on the micro-level of life as much as the macro.

I love reading and I think I want an infinite amount of time to read, but I’d probably burn myself out if that’s all I did. 

I love traveling, but if all I did was travel I would eventually feel like a ragdoll.

I desire more wealth, but if all I did was work I would have no life outside of work. 

Like everything in life, too much of anything has diminishing returns and becomes harmful. Absolute freedom leads us to Netflix in chill our way to oblivion. it’s the equivalent of having a diet of only eating ice cream. Not only is this harmful, but its also increasingly satisfying.

All this to say, that a balanced life is more than just work, or more than just your art, or more than just your friends or just your family. 

A life in balance is all these things and more. Failure needs success. Loneliness needs love. Money needs a purpose. Happiness needs contentment. (Yin needs Yang.) And vice versa.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #921

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Zero Motivation Part 5: Remember Why You Do What You Do

Note: You can read this motivation series in any order, but if the thought of reading something out of order makes you want to curl up into a fetal position and stare off into space here’s are links to the others in order:

Part 1: Start Small
Part 2: Use the Fear of Inaction to your Advantage
Part 3: Creating something each day.
Part 4: Change your approach

Motivation Part 5: Know Your Why.

“Know yourself to improve yourself.”

Auguste Comte

It’s difficult to muster up the energy to do anything if your heart isn’t in it. No amount of trickery or cajoling will motivate you to do something you ultimately don’t want to do. At least without consequences.

The problem is sometimes we don’t know that our hearts are not in it. Or even worse, someone else does everything they can to convince us this is what we should be doing — despite how we feel.

You see this all the time with parents forcing their kid(s) into a particular job, like being a lawyer or engineer, when the kid(s) clearly would rather focus on dancing, music or running.

I don’t blame the parents. 98% of the time a parent is doing because they want the best for their kid(s). The parent is older and more experienced in the hardships of life than the bright-eyed kid who thinks (s)he’s invincible.

There’s much more to it, but I think it comes down to a difference of strategy. The parent wants their child to be happy and they know that safety and security is the best way for them to do that. The kid wants to be happy and they know that creative expression and pursuing their passions is the best way for them to do that.

Happiness likely is the balance between just enough safety and security and just enough passion and challenge.

Too much safety and you boredom yourself into conformity. Too much challenge and you are stressed out of your gourd. And both conformity and too much stress lead to unhappy campers.

First, we must know what we are passionate about. otherwise, we’ll try everything wastes our energy or let others dictate our lives for us. Then, we can begin to find a way to pursue our passions while also figure out how to live, save money and eat.

That could mean our passion is our job or we find a way to support our passion through selling our work or find patrons. Or it could mean our passion is what we do in our free time. By day, we are accountants, by night, we are YouTubers!

Once we have a good idea of what we like, finding out why we like it is a whole other matter. There’s some great work out there on this, particularly Simon Sinek’s writing.

Knowing why you create is slippery. Maybe it’s because you like to express yourself and the way you’ve found to do that is through design. Maybe a goal is driving you, like to be one of the best or to be admired. Maybe curiosity it’s what drives you. You can’t help but ask another question and figure out what’s behind the metaphorical mountain in front of you.

Whatever it is that drives you, make sure it comes from within. Don’t let external drives like fame, fortune, and power be your only motivator. Each one of those can take you far, but I hear they can leave a bad taste in your mouth if that’s all you care about. Fame, fortune, and power are side effects to impactful work, not the ultimate goal.

Once you know your why, you can remind yourself every day what you must do.

Knowing yourself also allows you to avoid any pitfalls or temptations you know will trip you up. If you want to avoid eating ice-cream, then having it in the house and serenading your name every time 10 PM rolls around. Get it out of the house! The same with anything that is taking you away from your craft. If Netflix is distracting you from creating, then unsubscribe. Don’t think of it as a permanent decision. You can always resubscribe next month. Think of it as an experiment to improve your practice.

One of my big goals is to be someone worthy of the title “Renaissance Man”. I want to be a true multi-disciplinary — a master of many skills. That drives me to always keep learning and challenging myself. This is one reason why I write. This is why I can create and learn all day, and never get tired. My body and mind may fatigue, but my spirit doesn’t.

What’s your driving goal?
Why do you feel called to your craft?

If you want to be an incredible guitarist, what’s stopping you?
If you want to be a regarded programmer, then start coding.

Knowing yourself also allows you to avoid any pitfalls or temptations you know will trip you up. If you want to avoid eating ice-cream, then having it in the house and serenading your

Always remember why you do what you do.

And then get to work practicing it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #899

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Introducing Antidotes — Cures For The Everyday Strive

Like mine,

Your story is unique — 

but we all face similar hardships in life.

Our story is our own — but life is universal.


Pain, frustration, fears, dreams, hopes,

desires, failures, a search for meaning and purpose,

conflict, despair, overwhelm, barriers, loss, choices,

joy, misfortune, depression, happiness, injury, challenge,

obstacles, trials, triumphs..


Antidotes, is a new series from the Renaissance Life,

focusing on cures for the everyday strive we all face.

The goal is to forge ancient virtues in our life, specifically resilience —

so that we may fight for what we believe, and have an extraordinary life.

To not only withstand hardships, but to thrive in them — and ultimately,

turn them into victories.


Josh Waggoner

Do Things

When life feels dull —

Do things.

When the thought, ‘I have no life’, rules the mind —

Do things.

When you desire happiness, love, meaning, impact

Do things. (You guessed it)

What Things?

Doesn’t Matter.

Try something, if you like it, keep doing it

If you don’t, try something else.


Actions Steps

Start — Jon Acuff

“Action is the foundational key to all success.” — Pablo Picasso

“Words may show man’s wit, but ACTIONS his meaning.” — Benjamin Franklin

xoxo Josh Waggoner

‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’  Email me your thoughts on this post. Can you reduce the essential idea further?