Harry Browne's How I found Freedom in an Unfree World

I want to review a few parts of this book , its available in online libraries for free and even pdf. A great read. I dont agree with everything he says but its a great book to challenge your schemas and make you review your beliefs. I read it since young adulthood and it always gives me new perspective in different stages of my life.

The book has 3 sections. So I will review one item in each section

A)Why You Are Not Free

  1. IDENTITY TRAPS

All individuals are different. Each one has his own identity—with his own knowledge, understanding, perception, and attitudes. You’re in the Identity Trap when you overlook these differences—and that can get in the way of your freedom. You are you and only you. You live in a world of your own, composed of your own experience. You can’t be someone other than who you are.

THERE ARE TWO IDENTITY TRAPS:
(1) the belief that you should be someone other than yourself;

Requiring yourself to live in a stereotyped, predetermined way that doesn’t consider your own desires, feelings, and objectives

(2) the assumption that others will do things in the way that you would.

When you expect someone to have the same ideas, attitudes, and feelings that you have, you expect him to act in ways that aren’t in keeping with his nature. As a result, you’ll expect and hope that people will do things they’re not capable of doing.

AVOIDING THE TRAP

  1. You are a unique individual—different from all other human beings. No one else has the exact same nature that you have; no one else reacts to things in exactly the way you do. No one else sees the world exactly as you do. No one can dictate what your identity should be; you are the best qualified person to discover what it is.

  2. Each individual is acting from his own knowledge in ways he believes will bring him happiness. He acts to produce the consequences he thinks will make him feel better.

B. HOW YOU CAN BE FREE

  1. Freedom From Bad Relationships

PRINCIPLES
There are three principles that I find helpful to remember:

  1. Don’t think in terms of groups. As we saw in the Group Trap chapter, groups don’t think, act, or have motivations; only individuals do. It’s misleading to think of a group as being of one mind and purpose. Each individual is different from every other individual.

  2. Limit the relationship to what you have in common. Don’t expect more from the relationship than what is in the self-interest of each person involved. When you extend the relationship beyond the areas of mutual self-interest, someone will have to sacrifice.

  3. Don’t attempt to perpetuate a relationship by contract. Change is inevitable. Alternatives, knowledge, and desires change. Any relationship should last only so long as it’s beneficial to each party. If an individual is required to continue in a relationship past the time it’s beneficial to him, he loses. And it won’t be possible for him to satisfy the needs of anyone else in the relationship if he’s acting out of duty and not enthusiasm.

You’re bound to be disappointed when you apply labels to people and relationships and then expect them to live up to the labels. Your definition of a “friend” may be considerably different from the one your friend has. What you expect from him may be far more than he’s willing to give— regardless of what you may feel you’ve done for him.

Relationships don’t have to be structured, perpetuated, tied down. They’ll work out best if you let them evolve as they will—limiting your expectations to what is, and continues to be, mutually beneficial.

When you find a friend who’s intellectually stimulating, enjoy him for the excellent discussions you can have. But don’t expect him to help rearrange your furniture or lend you money. Those things are separate parts of your life, not a part of his. If you need money and can’t borrow it at a bank or finance company, don’t jeopardize good friendships by appealing for money on the basis of loyalty. Offer terms that would make it worth more to a friend to lend the money than to use it himself.

Relationships shouldn’t be sources of restrictions. And they won’t be if you take them as they are.

Perhaps the three principles can be summed up as one important principle: Let others be free. Don’t try to tie them down with obligations, loyalties, duties, commitments, or appeals for sympathy.

Make it your policy that you don’t expect anyone to do what isn’t in his self-interest.

Don’t try to restrict your lover’s activities.

Don’t try to make your spouse give up his interests for you.

Don’t give your friends reason to feel that you expect anything from them but what is in their self-interest to give. If you let others be free, you’ll be a rare person—and a valuable one.

You’ll be in demand because you won’t create the conflicts and arguments that so many people have had from others.

Your freedom is just as important, of course. You have to learn to say “no” in a way that doesn’t create strain and conflict. When you learn that, others will usually respect your individuality. Your freedom and the freedom of those you deal with are equally important to you. If people come to you because they freely want to, you’ll receive more genuine love, friendship, understanding, and appreciation than you could possibly get by asking for it or demanding it.

Loneliness is never more cruel than when it is felt in close propinquity with someone who has ceased to communicate. —GERMAINE GREER

C. A NEW LIFE

STARTING FROM ZERO TECHNIQUE

The starting-from-zero technique uses the life you dream of as the standard and compares everything with it, eliminating anything in your present routine that isn’t part of the dream life.

It provides the simplest way to determine which parts of your present life aren’t what you really want—and to be able to visualize a way of getting to where you want to be.

There are seven steps in the technique:

  1. Mentally step outside your present way of life. Start from zero by imagining yourself outside of your present routine. Expand upon the daydreams you’ve had before—imagine now that you’re no longer entangled in any of your present responsibilities, obligations, or relationships. Envision yourself totally on your own—
    with none of your present possessions, family, career, social commitments, debts, or contracts. In other words, you’re completely free—starting from zero with a clean slate, a fresh start to go in any direction that you choose. Don’t concern yourself now with the restrictions that presently exist in your life; don’t even try to decide how you’ll remove them. Just imagine that there’s no one to restrict you or make any claims upon you.

  2. What would you do? Ask yourself what you’d do with this totally free situation. Where would you go? What would you like to do for a living? What have you always wanted to do that’s been prevented by your old way of life? Whom would you like to see? What would you do with your time? In this new life, would you be single? Would you want to live with the person you’ve always desired? Would you want a particular kind of home? What kind of work would you like to pursue? What material things would give you pleasure?

Only one restriction should be imposed upon your dreams: You can’t make someone else be what you want him to be. It serves no purpose to imagine that your spouse has suddenly changed as you’ve wanted him to, or that your boss has finally given you that raise. Nor does it serve any purpose to dream that you’re married to Sophia Loren. However, you can dream that you’re free to pursue Sophia Loren, and to apply your best efforts to the task of winning her love. In the same way, you’ve pictured, you can imagine that there’s no one to restrict you or make any claims upon you.

Write down everything that occurs to you about it—the material things you want, the occupation, the new relationships, where you want to live, etc. It may take a couple of days to recall everything you’ve thought of that you want to be a part of your new life. By writing down the elements of the dream, you can focus upon them more clearly—and make better use of the next step.

  1. What is your present life like? Now take a close look at your present routine. What activities engage you now? What is your work? How do you spend your time? Whom are you required to associate with? Where does your money go? List the activities in your present life—if you haven’t already compiled a list for the techniques mentioned in the last chapter.

  2. Cross off everything in your present life that doesn’t appear in your dream life. If there’s something in your present life that isn’t part of the life you want for yourself, there’s no reason to perpetuate it. All you need to find is a way out of it— and we’re coming to that. You might find that you’ll cross off everything from your present life—that you’re not doing anything now that conforms with your dream of an ideal life. If so, don’t be discouraged by that discovery. Everything you cross off from your present life can be replaced with something new, something better, something more productive of happiness.

The next part deals with the means of financing your new life.

  1. What do you need to make your dream life possible? Estimate the requirements and costs of your imagined new life. How much time would be necessary to ready yourself for the profession you have in mind?

How much money would you need to go where you want to be? How much time is required for the activities you crave? What other resources are necessary for the kind of existence you’re dreaming of?

For the moment, don’t worry about what you already have or how you’ll get what you need; just determine the costs required. How much money would you need? How much time? Your knowledge will go with you anywhere—but you need to estimate the cost of adding any extra knowledge you might need to achieve your ends.

  1. What are your present assets and liabilities? Set aside your dream world long enough to make an inventory of your present financial situation. What are your present assets? How much money can you freely spend as you choose? What is the worth of your present properly (home, land, furniture, savings, car, appliances, investments)? Now list your present liabilities. How much money do you owe? What other monetary obligations have you incurred—family support, leases, business liabilities,charitable pledges?

Make your list complete; you need to know exactly where you stand. Don’t overlook any liabilities—you can’t eliminate them until you recognize them. If your assets are greater than your liabilities, the difference is your usable net worth—what you have available to meet the requirements of your new life.

If your net worth is very small—or even if your liabilities are greater than your assets—don’t let that stop you. Don’t decide that you can’t make any changes until you’re out of debt. The situation isn’t likely to get any better as long as you continue your present way of life.

Losing businesses have been perpetuated for years in hopes that a few more sales would make them profitable. And in the same way, many hopeless routines are continued in the vain hope that things will be better tomorrow.

Things will get better only when you make the changes that are necessary to make them better. It’s your present way of life that’s piled debts and obligations on your shoulders. If you continue it, your debts will more likely increase.

It’s important to get to zero —to a free position—as soon as possible so that you can have a clean start to move in the direction you want to go. When you escape from your boxes, you’ll have the opportunity to increase your net worth—if that’s what you want.

In addition to monetary responsibilities, inventory your other commitments. Are you obligated to future social responsibilities? Are you married? Do you have children? What other commitments do you have?

Any burdensome commitments can be eliminated by paying some price; you can clear them with an expenditure of time or money. Add the monetary prices of eliminating unwanted commitments to your financial liabilities so that you can pay them off and be done with them.

And now we come to the best part:

  1. Make changes. Eliminate present assets that aren’t on your dream list. Turn into cash all the material possessions that aren’t necessary to your dream life. Eliminate all the activities that consume time without contributing to the existence you really want. Use the cash proceeds to pay off your liabilities. Try to eliminate every commitment in that way.

If you wind up with nothing but a free life, you’ll be way ahead. With a free life, you can acquire what you want much more easily, with no debts or obligations to eat up the money as you make it. If you have cash left over after paying off the liabilities, use it to finance those parts of the dream world that require money.

And use the time you save to indulge yourself in the dream activities you’ve previously denied yourself. You should be able to create a workable plan on paper. You’ll be able to see what can be eliminated, and how the proceeds in time and money can be used to pay off liabilities and buy the things you want.

But sometimes these matters are so complicated that it seems impossible to work them out on paper. If that’s the case, the best alternative is to actually liquidate your present holdings. Sell everything—terminate all relationships, contracts, plans, programs. Sell all your property—whether or not any part of it is on your dream list—and pay off all your debts as far as the money will go.

That’s a drastic step—and I don’t advise it unless you absolutely can’t work out a transition on paper. But if that’s what’s necessary, do it. When you’ve done it, you’ll be free to move in any direction you want. Don’t be afraid to give up anything that’s part of a basically unfree life. Anything you cherish can probably be reacquired later without any of the problems involved now. The important thing is to be free—and that may require a clean sweep.