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Nurit Alon Headshot

On Freedom and Being Free

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We often relate to the term "freedom" in official documents like The Constitution and Bill of Rights, but seldom do we ask ourselves in our daily routine how much we personally experience freedom. How often do we manifest the significance of the fact that the laws of the countries we live in recognize that we are free people? I believe that every day, when a person wakes up in the morning, he should acknowledge and relate to the significance and meaning of his personal freedom and its implications for his choices that day.

I believe that the quality of a person's life is a derivative of whether or not he really feels free in his daily routine; whether or not he is aware of the fact that he is free to choose the activities that give him joy, please him and fulfill a purpose that relates to his own values regarding living well.

These choices aligned with enjoyment of life and inner purposes and values conflict sometimes with a principle that Arthur Schopenhauer wrote about in "The Wisdom of Life" (chapter one). Schopenhauer wrote that the fundamentals in human life and happiness could be reduced to "three distinct classes":

1. What a man is: that is to say, personality, in the widest sense of the word; under which are included health, strength, beauty, temperament, moral character, intelligence, and education.

2. What a man has: that is, property and possessions of every kind.

3. How a man stands in the estimation of others: by which is to be understood, as everybody knows, what a man is in the eyes of his fellowmen, or, more strictly, the light in which they regard him. This is shown by their opinion of him; and their opinion is in its turn manifested by the honor in which he is held, and by his rank and reputation.

I think that when we relate to the third class -- the opinion of others about us -- as a thing that exists objectively, we decrease by definition our ability and our right to enjoy our life. And it is too bad, because thus we lose an important dimension that could make our life more happy, free and meaningful.

I think that what sets me free is the basic understanding and acknowledgement that at the end of the day, the opinion of others about me is irrelevant to my happiness. In a world that gives so much importance to marketing, PR and crisis management, the dividing line that should have been clear between truth and lie, or right and wrong, is distorted in accordance to changing interests. So there is no absolute or true meaning to what people really think about things or other people. What is left for us at the end of the day is what we think about ourselves, once we understand the true meaning and implications of "I exist " and its implications on whatever I choose to do or take part in.

I think that by and large, our success is derived based on how we experience and exercise our personal freedom as the thing with the biggest potential in our life to make us happy and fulfilled.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power," which took place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.

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