Recommended book: How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World (Harry Browne)

In between Christmas, knee surgery and New Year Eve, I didn’t publish the post number 11 of my personal challenge, but on the other side, this time of the year is notoriously a time of self-indulgence and self-overfeeding so I forgive myself urbi et orbi.

Anyway, this is post #11.

In post-operation recovery I finished reading a self-help book that I really enjoyed: “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World”, a classic written in 1973 by Harry Browne.

Harry Browne was an American and run twice for the Presidential campaign for the Libertarian Party…. yes, a self-help book written by a politician!?

I was indeed skeptical, but soon I realized why this book has nothing to do with other self-help texts I previously read.

This is not about positive thinking or practicing acceptance, but it’s rather sending a strong message that I can summarize in this sentence: your life is yours to spend as you choose, don’t let anyone tell you how to live and freedom involves taking responsibility for your actions.

There are concepts that I don’t agree with, for example I don’t believe in his cynical view that single individuals can’t do anything in fighting for a cause, but there are many ideas about genuine selfishness, sovereignty and freedom that I found very very veeeery interesting.

Here I collect the (long) list of most inspiring quotes from this book:

  • Freedom is the opportunity to live your life as you want to live it.
  • To be free in an unfree world isn’t nearly as unrealistic as it might seem at first glance. After all, it’s commonly assumed that there can be free nations in a world that contains enslaved nations.
  • Your knowledge is the result of your experiences
  • No one else (including me) is qualified to tell you how to live.
  • When you’re exposed to the ideas of someone who has apparently done well with his own life, it’s easy to conclude that he has all the final answers. His reasoning makes sense to you; he has results to show for his ideas. What further proof could you need to demonstrate that he knows how to live? He probably does know how to live — his life.
  • if an individual is required to give up his own happiness for society, of what value is society to him?
  • An efficiently selfish person is sensitive to the needs and desires of others. But he doesn’t consider those desires to be demands upon him. Rather, he sees them as opportunities — potential exchanges that might be beneficial to him
  • when someone accuses you of being selfish, just remember that he’s upset only because you aren’t doing what he selfishly wants you to do.
  • It’s just as foolish to feel that you must make everyone understand that you’re right, that your desires are legitimate, that you should be able to do as you want. You don’t have to. Just concentrate your attention on finding those people who are appropriate for you. You can ignore the others
  • Little souls wish you to be unhappy. It aggravates them to have you joyous, efficient and free. They like to feel that fate is disciplining you. It gives their egos wings if yours are clipped. You can ruin your life in an hour by listening to their puerile opinions
  • You have so much control over your life, it would be a shame to throw it away.
  • A free person uses his tremendous power of choice to make a comfortable life for himself. The power of choice. You have it. But you forfeit it when you imagine that you can choose for others. You can’t.
  • “I can’t do that,” she said. “I have a $150 tied up in it; I have to see it through.” She was saying, in effect, “Since I’ve already wasted my money on this, I’m now going to waste my time, too.”
  • I’ve never found an exception to the rule that the sooner you pay a price, the less it costs you.
  • What could you do today that would give you more freedom tomorrow morning?
  • Every day outside a box is another day added to your free life.
  • Taking risks is an inherent part of life; it’s only dangerous when you act as though you’re not taking a risk.
  • When you accept the presence of uncertainty, you can usually relax and enjoy life more.
  • You are the sovereign authority for your life. You are the ruler who makes the decisions regarding how you will act, what information you will accept. You do it anyway — but if you recognize that you do it, you can gain much greater control over your future
  • When you no longer count on other people to be “right,” to be certain, to be moral, to be intelligent, you’ll turn to the one source of genuine power that exists for you — yourself.
  • Your life is all you have. What could possibly be important enough to warrant throwing that life away? Of what value is society if you must give up your happiness for it? Of what value is your country if you must sacrifice your life to protect it from its problems? Of what value is anything if to preserve it you must bend your identity?
  • By bending yourself to fit the institutions, you turn things inside out. The institutions must be created and utilized as they serve you — not vice versa.
  • freedom is more often lost by false assumptions than by the power of one’s enemies
  • “society” is a nonentity. It has no mind, no interests, no motivations. It is simply a collection of many different individuals who have different minds, interests, and motivations. So “society” can’t restrain you.
  • If you want to find someone who is much like yourself in attitude, tastes, and interests, you have to look where such a person is likely to be found. And you can’t expect him to recognize you if you hide your identity behind a mask in order to get along with the people you’re with.
  • if you make your own actions consistent with the standards you really admire, you’ll know which people are compatible — just by their reactions to you. Those who disapprove will seek someone different to be with, and those who have standards similar to yours will react favorably toward you. In effect, you let others tell you about themselves through their reactions to what you are.
  • I think that many people hide their identity, tolerate restrictions, and remain in bad relationships because they’re afraid of being lonely. But I wonder what they mean by “lonely.” Aren’t they very lonely when they deal with people who don’t understand and appreciate them? I know I’d be lonely in such a situation.
  • 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.
  • Life is to be lived, not sacrificed
  • To be genuine and profound, love depends upon freedom.
  • Love is too valuable to allow it to be killed by marriage, social pressures, or any other restriction
  • Envy is simply an intellectual recognition of what you’d like to have.
  • you should feel a great sense of self-esteem when you know that your lover wants you more than anyone else in the world. He genuinely wants you — not because you’ve limited his alternatives, but because he’s seen the competition and he prefers you.
  • The three forms of security most often sought are financial security (the assurance that one will never be poor), intellectual security (the assurance that one is right in his beliefs), and emotional security (the assurance that one will always be loved)
  • Security comes from your ability to deal with the world, not from a guarantee by someone else. When you know you’re capable of dealing with whatever comes, you have the only security the world has to offer.
  • when you recognize that you have the power to deal with anything that lies ahead, an uncertain future can be a source of adventure rather than a fearful liability.
  • I haven’t the faintest idea what I’ll be doing five years from now. I may be writing books; I may be doing something else that I can’t even conceive of now. I don’t know where I’ll be living. I know only one thing — that life will continue to be as exciting and as full of happy surprises as it is now.
  • the individual who recognizes his own sovereignty considers the consequences of his actions to be the only standard of right and wrong.
  • If you’re loved now, you’ll continue to be loved only if you continue to satisfy the values of the person who loves you.
  • The insecure person hangs on desperately to whatever exists in the present. The secure person accepts and enjoys whatever he has in the present, but as change occurs he feels no fear of the future.
  • Your life is yours to spend as you choose. You don’t have to be wealthy; you don’t have to be involved in a family; you don’t have to be successful. If any of those things are a part of your life, it should be only because you choose them. 
  • It’s essential to realize that you can’t have everything, you can’t do everything. There’s always a price — and the price can be expressed in the alternatives that must be given up for something.
  • lying is an attempt to get something for nothing
  • When you tell the truth, you may be surprised to discover that it projects a more attractive image of yourself than one you might have fabricated
  • I’ve often found that others would reveal their feelings only after I’d revealed mine frankly. When they saw that someone was willing to admit the truth about himself, they felt free to follow suit.
  • Integrity is knowing yourself well enough to be able to mean what you say.
  • You need time alone to act completely on your own desires — to discover the kinds of entertainment that please you, to realize such things as what color you’d most like your living room to be, to daydream and discover what you’re now missing. 
  • Do novel things. You may react in novel ways. Pay very serious attention to those reactions — they’re telling you who you are. 
  • Realize that what they do is up to them. What you do is up to you
  • As I lie on my couch by the fireplace, looking out from my hillside home at the snow leading down to the ocean, with the right woman in my arms, a glass of Bordeaux beside me and a Puccini opera on the stereo system, knowing that I’ve earned the pleasure I feel, I’m so glad I didn’t let someone else decide what’s best for me.
  • what could be more stimulating than thinking about your own life?
  • Don’t allow the standards of others to influence you. Different people, with different views of life, have different ideas about what is possible. 
  • A free person has no one to blame. He has no boxes, no restrictions, no enemies to take the responsibility for his actions
  • The future has an annoying habit of forgetting its appointments — or arriving too late for them
  • I’ve always found it hard to understand why so many people live so much for the future — especially when the present is such a lovely place.
  • Things will get better only when you make the changes that are necessary to make them better.
  • Don’t be so afraid of sudden, sharp discomfort that you willingly tolerate chronic, continual, deadening pain the rest of your life. If you refuse to undergo temporary discomfort, you’re resigning yourself to a lifetime with little happiness. The chronic pain can deaden your senses, destroy your love of life, and make you bitter.
  • if you have to compromise your desires, if you can’t use your wealth to live your life as you want to, why hang onto it so intensely?
  • The important thing is that you take yourself more seriously, that you respect your own view of the world and make sure that it really is your view, not something you’ve been told.
  • I’ve enjoyed relationships with wonderful women who have added to my life. None of those situations has evolved into a lifetime relationship — but none of them had to in order to be of value. Each has provided a positive benefit, filling me with rich emotions and a sense of excitement about life.
  • one day you may discover that you’ve achieved a new freedom, an emotional freedom that’s greater than any you’ve known before — freedom from the urge to control others.
  • I don’t think you can really be free until you’re willing to let others be free.
  • I enjoy my life because I refuse to model it after the life of anyone else. I refuse to accept a way of doing things simply because it seems to work for someone else. I refuse to assume that what has made others happy is certain to make me happy.
  • To have made so many mistakes, and yet to have had so much. It proves that you don’t have to be perfect to succeed.
  • You will never be perfect. But you can be free and happy.
And now what the hell should I read?!
Any inspiring book you can recommend me?
5/5 - (1 vote)

Di Daniele

Hi, I’m Daniele! A human being from planet earth. I founded and I like dancing Salsa, running, and living a location independent lifestyle.

4 commenti

    1. Slavery, human trafficking, corruption for example…. but as the author states, ¨To be free in an unfree world isn’t nearly as unrealistic as it might seem at first glance. After all, it’s commonly assumed that there can be free nations in a world that contains enslaved nations.¨


  1. “When someone accuses you of being selfish, just remember that he’s upset only because you aren’t doing what he selfishly wants you to do”. How true! When I relocated to Milan, my choice was not understood by people I helped. They made me feel selfish. Instead, they never tried to understand the circumstances that made me relocate to the city (working and studying at the same time). Better If I had read the book at the time.