Corbett Barr

Lifestyle Business Weekly

What’s Your Definition of Freedom? (Mine Changed Last Week) Plus: My Latest Attempt at Video

This week I’d love to find out, what is your definition of freedom?

It might sound cheesy, but I think about the concept of freedom a lot. What is freedom really? Is it living in a free country? Not having debts? Being financially independent? Being location independent? Being happy as often as possible? Doing what you love for a living?

There are lots of possible answers, and I’d love to hear what freedom means to you. If you’re like me, your answer will probably contain a few different components.

I got a little taste of a different type of freedom last week. Thanks everybody for the amazing response to my “33 Things” post. It made me feel on top of the world. And it made me understand a different type of freedom: the freedom of self-expression.

I also came across this quote along the same lines: “The freedom we are looking for is the freedom to be ourselves, to express ourselves.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

So my definition of freedom now includes self expression as a key component. I explain why in this brief (3 minute long) video. I haven’t done video for over a year, and I think I might do more. I really like the format for topics like this.

Should I do more video? Let me know that as well in the comments.

Corbett Barr

A weekly curated email of useful links for people interested in lifestyle businesses and independent entrepreneurship.


33 Things I’ve Never Told You (or, How to Re-Introduce Yourself and Kick Your Watered-Down Self in the Ass)


How to Live a Part-Time Location Independent Lifestyle


  1. Corbett,

    Your post on 33 things inspired me to start what I hope will be a movement called the #gettoknowme movement on twitter. After you wrote your post, I wrote my no bullshi#$3 guide to who I am. As far as freedom goes, I think it’s being able to schedule your life around good surf conditions and being able to just get up and go anywhere in the world whenever you want.

    • Awesome, Srinivas. That sounds like a fun movement to follow. Oh, and I’m with you on the “schedule your life around surf conditions” thing. That’s freedom, for sure.

  2. YES! You should keep posting video! Gotta love a guy that wears flannel! :) I’m so glad that you are letting all of us get to know you more, and video is just another way we get to see the real you!

    • Cool Asia. Glad you liked it. Funny you mention the flannel. I was just thinking that I’ll have to pay attention to what I wear on the videos a little. When you work at home, you tend to just wear what’s comfortable, and to wear the same things more often.

  3. Corbett – great to see a video post and I couldn’t agree with you more on your comments here. I think so many people are focused on external aspects in their life. As cheesy as it may sound, I firmly believe that true happiness comes from within and from looking within as opposed to ‘out there.’ I think that’s what you got a glimpse of. You stripped away any of the barriers you had or false sense of self you may have felt you created to share who you are…and that’s wonderful. Keep it up!

    • I was wondering about internal vs. external happiness factors myself recently. I agree, most of happiness is within, but external factors have some effect as well. Think of being imprisoned or living in unsanitary conditions or without food. Can you really be as happy in those situations as you would be outside of them?

      Thanks for the thought-provoking comment and encouragement Nate. Cheers.

  4. So freedom has been on my mind a lot lately as well. For me, there is a level of financial freedom. I think this is key to start doing the things you want in life. Even little pleasures aren’t free, so you need some money to make do some of the events/experiences you desire. Then comes personal freedom. For me that is health and family. Being able to be myself is also extremely important.

    I was at an event over the weekend and the host is a buddy of mine. He was rocking a backwards TapOut hat, cargo shorts and a white v-neck t-shirt. All the other presenters were in suits. He told me that being himself is so important. Why would he change? Why would he do business with people that didn’t accept him for who he is. That hit me hard.

    It’s so true. So the last part for me is freedom from stress. If a client sucks, fire them. If you are not happy blogging today, don’t blog. Insert whatever else pains you and just get rid of it. Get yourself through those first 2 ringers – financial and personal freedom and then get rid of the stress in your life.

    All that combined starts to become that freedom in a box we all hope for.

    • And actually, freedom from stress will probably help you achieve those other freedoms faster. So maybe I’d put that one up higher on the list. Basically, negative stress is largely our reaction to not getting what we want in life. If you focus on the action instead of the result, you can eliminate a lot of stress. There is positive stress as well (eustress), but that’s a whole other discussion.

      Great answer Greg. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Hi Corbett,

    Loved your 33 things post and saw that it sparked a lot of other people to self-express, too.

    I’ve been consumed by freedom lately, especially every Sunday night and every weekday working from my cubicle :-) I often think back to having summers off when I was young and not having to worry about anything, except to have fun and enjoy life. The older I get, the more I appreciate the little things in life that make it meaningful.

    I am not a fan of video. I know that tons of people like the short clips, but unless you also offer a written transcript of the video, it’s not convenient to watch videos (for me at least), especially when there are other people around. I hope you don’t have every post as a video post, because I like *reading* your awesome articles.


    • Thanks for the thoughts on video, Karen. I know it’s inconvenient for some. Don’t worry, I’m not planning to make every post a video, and I plan to include a text summary when I do.

      Regarding freedom, isn’t it interesting to think back on childhood and realize how different our perspectives were? It was so easy back then to have moments of complete clarity presence. Now it’s hard to get everything off of your mind and be in the moment as easily.

  6. Hi, Corbett. We did similar posts on our blog and had an overwhelming response – people were excited to get to know more personal things about us. I think it helps move along your relationship just like it would in real life, and I was amazed at some of the emails I got from people sharing personal stories about themselves. I feel a lot more freedom to be me in the blog now.

    Nice to see you using video, too. I agree with Karen in that I prefer reading to watching, but probably 1/3 of people prefer video. When you can combine an article with a short video that seems to work the best.

    We’ve been trying to add more of that in our blog and Facebook page and it always gets a good response, especially at 3 minutes or less. But it takes some getting used to, that’s for sure. My videos are not professional, but when I look back to my first videos I can see they have come a very long way.

    In the end, I think it is just about connecting with your audience the way they want to interact, so if you can mix it up to reach more people your message will go further (farther? Never can remember which one to use)

    • I loved that “can we start all over” post you did, Betsy. Congrats on the awesome response as well.

      It’s good to hear from someone else who has tried video as well. The reason I like the format is it gives an opportunity to connect on a different level with a certain set of readers who are willing to watch. I know it’s not for everyone, but it will be interesting to see where it takes me. Cheers!

  7. Yeeaa keep the vids coming! I’m such a huge fan of bloggers using video. It offers a very different, but great way to connect with exactly who it is you read on a constant basis. I need to do some for my site I think.

  8. I am not a fan of videos because it is not as comfortable as pure text but you did quite good so keep going on them!

  9. Trever Clark

    Corbett – I’m usually not a huge fan of video on blog posts, but I thought that this was ok. And it was ok because it was kind of a follow up to your little “confessional” post that we all loved so much, and it allowed us to kind of see a little more of the real you. I think that most of us who read blogs do it wanting to see a real, quirky, authentic person behind the website. If we wanted to read something written by some corporate douche (I thought it was awesome that you used “douchebag” in the video, btw), we’d read MSN or AOL articles.

    I found the subject of freedom to be pretty timely for me. For the first time since I quit going to work in an office, I’ve been feeling like I need to find some kind of work/life balance. I appreciated your response to my email, and I’m definitely going to put those tips to use. I’ll shoot you a reply shortly. But yeah, in the so-called Lifestyle Design community, everybody gives lip service to freedom and free time – what they don’t say is that it’s just as easy to let work-type activities spill over into the rest of your life when you don’t have a cubicle. In fact, it’s probably even more of a risk, since there isn’t as much delineation between work and home. I think that it’s important to be hypervigilant about where you expend your labors, and to remember why we all want to “design our lifestyles” in the first place. It isn’t so that we can spend our time 24-7 on the web in our home offices.

    • Hey Trever, glad you liked the douchebag reference. It’s a frequent part of my vocabulary, I have to admit.

      You’re absolutely right about free time when you’re working for yourself. I tend to work from all hours of the day, literally right when I wake up and right before I go to sleep sometimes.

      It is harder to find boundaries when you’re the boss and your office is at home. Although sometimes that helps me to get much more done than I would otherwise. I try to make up for it during the part of the year I’m in Mexico, and by taking frequent vacations or long weekends. Although I love what I do at the moment, so I don’t mind working a lot.

  10. Corbett,
    With chrome, firefox or even Internet explorer . I can only see a blank screen in place of the video. Am I the only one ?

    • Hmm, I haven’t heard the same issue from anyone else. Here is the link on YouTube instead:

      • My mistake Corbett …
        That’s traveling everywhere but not choosing the right country :-) I am in Tunisia right now, but the web is censure and youtube is forbidden.
        I just realized that now with your direct link ! Sorry for the inconvenience. Will see it when back in France then !

  11. Barry

    On the subject of video: I live in South Africa and we’re kinda bandwidth challenged so most videos load up slowly and often play very jerkily. From my personal perspective it seems that video lends itself to too many words – the message gets diluted and may well have come across better had the originator put his feelings into words.
    On the subject of freedom, for me financial freedom, freedom of expression and freedom to live wherever one chooses go hand in hand. With the exception of expression, I think the other two go hand in hand.

    • Good point on the global issues with video, Barry. I’ll keep that in mind.

      And yes, financial freedom often allows you to live wherever, but not always. And living wherever doesn’t have to require financial freedom. For those reasons, I think of them separately.

  12. You should do video more often Corbett. Really showed your personal side. I’m going to have to shoot some video as well.

    Rock on bro!

  13. Hey Corbett

    Love the video! I enjoy blog vids because I feel like I am ‘getting to know’ the person behind the website.

    I get what you are saying about putting yourself out there to be judged. I am working on my new website and I was thinking something similar: will people read it, will they like it, will they like me? etc etc. And of course how to get over all of that trepidation and just be my unabashed self.

    Go on and do your thing! Loving it so far.

    If I could sum up my idea of freedom without expounding for hours it would be having choices. It seems like the people with the least ‘freedom’ in the world have no choices: no choice of location, little choice of job, sometimes not even a choice of food or clean water. So I feel like the more options that are open to me the more freedom I am enjoying.

    • Hey Natalie, congrats on the upcoming website. Give yourself a lot of slack in the beginning, it takes time to learn blogging (if that’s what you’re doing) and to figure out who you want to be to your readers.

      And I love your definition of freedom. Choices are really important, and that sums it up so nicely.

  14. Nice one Corbett,

    video – yay. It’s about time. Feels kind of naked, doesn’t it, eh ?
    Man, I was shit scared when I did my first one, especially since English isn’t my first language.

    You should do it every other month – it gives your blog such a personal touch.

    I’ll give you a nice kick if you lose your character in your posts !

    • You have nothing to worry about when it comes to English. Yours is perfect. The rest of us should be embarrassed for not speaking a second language so fluently. Yo hablo Espanol pero no hablo la lengua con soltura.

      Thanks for the feedback. I’ll definitely be doing more videos.

  15. Hey Cortbett, Looove your blog!
    On the topic of freedom. I’d say freedom is the liberty to be and do you, whatever that may entail. If, as Srinivas said, its being able to schedule your life around good surf conditions, so be it. If its wandering the globe experiencing different cultures, so be it and if its doing video blogs cause you want to do video blogs regardless of the consensus, then so be it! Do you. :)

    • Hi Roxine, thanks for the compliment. And I’m learning to “do me” as you put it more and more these days. It’s definitely part of my definition of freedom. Cheers!

  16. Definitely stick with the video blogging. I’ve been doing it for a couple of months on another site I own and after 19 videos it’s really starting to become much easier and really enjoyable, and I’m naturally a very quiet person. :-)

  17. It may sound hackneyed and overdone – but to me freedom is being able to do what you want to do when you want to do it without concern about where the money is going to come from. A lot of people would consider me to have a high degree of freedom because I’ve had my own business for a number of years – but over time our passions shift. What made me excited 7-8 years ago, well, it just doesn’t have the thrill it did before. I want to do more writing and travel with my husband. So I’m embarking on excellent adventure of lifestyle re-design.

    Corbett, I agree with you on the video thing. I feel so much more natural typing out what I want to say rather than talking to webcam. I’m sure it’ll get easier when I do more of it. Hang in there!

    • I like that definition of freedom, Denise. Although, it almost seems like achieving it is purely a mental exercise. “Without concern of where the money will come from” could just be a state of mind, right?

      • You’re absolutely right, Corbett.

        Hey, just got a new FlipCam yesterday. Been practising with it. So much more flexible and fun compared to the webcam built into my laptop.

  18. Matt

    Hey Corb,
    Having seen your ass from adjacent cars and from the same car you were traveling in I’m hesitant to encourage any more ‘full moons’ but I really do like hearing that there is someone out there my age who still thinks mooning is a fun, honest, worthwhile expression of joy and one’s true self!!! Keep it up!

    • A good gesture of self-expression usually requires some encouragement, and I’m sure you were there for me Matt. Here’s to never getting too old in either case!

  19. Hey Corbett..

    For me the most important type of freedom is actually Emotional Freedom – the ability to be free of nagging thoughts or feelings or obligations that really don’t exist but that people are able to keep on recreating.. Sometimes these are so deeply and tightly wound that you can literally be halfway through a one year sabbatical in the South Pacific and neuroses of a former life come poking their way back in and destroying the vibe.. Lifestyle design and financial independence are all well and good but if a person’s continually haunted by behavioural patterns that screw up relationships and good times, then at the end of the day what’s it all worth? And the difficulty is that whilst your income and address can be easily measured, those emotional nasties can go unperceived for a very long time.

    And when people talk about the “spirit” and “happiness” in third-world countries I think about the types of freedom that you and I have both mentioned..

  20. Dan

    I would have to say freedom of the mind. So many people think they aren’t free yet they don’t live in a prison. Well maybe a prison of the mind Matrix style.

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