Break Free: To Reboot With Confidence, Playfulness and Adaptibility by Robert Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Just as the cover describes, Break Free by Robert E. Lewis is a self-help type book that explains how to escape the controlling conditions and dependencies we have grown dependent on during our lives. Since we were little children we were raised to be 'conditioned' to fit into a society where free thinking and expression seems to be frowned upon. In other words, you behave, go to school, graduate, get a job, get a house, have a family, grow old and die. That is our lives in a nut shell. The more money you make, the better. You can have a bigger house, fancy car, send your kids to the best schools (so the cycle repeats for them) and uphold a significant spot in socials and society. After all, value is placed on the wants and needs of those who hold the bigger bank accounts, more so than the average person. (We see this everyday in politics.) Happiness, explorations, discoveries, worry free environments, those were all things of childhood that we must leave behind, or do we?
As a child we would sit at the beach with our pail and shovel and dig a hole in the sand filling our pail. Then we discovered that if we got that sand wet, when we dumped it out it remained in the shape of the pail. We built sandcastles, seashells found on the beach became windows, doors, or fancy decorations, seaweed was a garden or sea monster on the attach. There were no worries, there were no right and wrong, there was only fun, imagination, and discovery. We didn't worry about anything, not even the approaching high tide. We were living in the here and now, not the past nor were we worried about the future. Sure, we learned from our mistakes but that was the beauty of it. We learned the next time we go to the beach to build our sandcastle a little further up the beach so when the tide does come in, our castle isn't washed away before we were ready for it to be but this 'discovery' was through fun and play. It was stress-free and it wasn't even the fact that the sandcastle would be washed away (or knocked down) but the real fun was right there playing in the 'now'. In other words, through life the destination isn't what is important, it is the journey to get there.
The book explains this and how material things don't matter, in fact, in some cases they just tie you down. They don't only anchor you physically but mentally as well. As the book states it, "Consumership has replaced citizenship, the measure of life has been reduced to a standard of living, a calculation of consumption and ownership." It is not saying you shouldn't own anything as we all need a place to live and usually a car to drive to work but what it is saying is that we as a society are no longer measured by our abilities, differences, contributions of our minds or work, we are being measured by how much money we earn or spend and characterized into 'classes' where the upper-class is the one on top and naturally the lower-class is on the bottom. If a lower-class citizen makes some discovery, invents some amazing machine, or writes a best-seller, simply by the class that they are in, they will have a much harder time than if they were in the upper-class for the simple reason that upper-class owns and consumes more so they are held on a higher tier, they are taken more serious. They are the place the lower and middle classes should strive to go.
We think we don't have a choice but have to live like this. We have to live in society so need to abide by the rules but we do not have to live by the conditioning or restraints that society put on us. We can 'refresh, reboot, and reprogram' our lives to once again 'live in the here and now' and the book explains how to do this. Again, it isn't saying we don't have responsibilities or need to forget all about saving for a retirement but what it is saying is that life should be like 'playing' as a child: imagination, discovery, stress-free. There was no wrong way to make the sandcastle. If I wanted a door on the top of it and put it there, so what! I wasn't bound by some rule that said I couldn't, I wasn't going to get a spanking, or grounded. My future wasn't going to be ruined nor was it hurting anyone. I could put the door where ever I wanted and I was happy with that. It is only when someone came to me and said that the door don't belong there because it looks stupid and serves no purpose since there are no stairs and you can't get to it that I was restricted in my play because someone was trying to put conditions on it. They were trying to 'limit' my imagination. However, I was playing in the 'here and now' and still using my imagination so I said it wasn't to go in, it was so once inside I can throw things out! This is what the book is getting at, throw out all these negatives in our lives, all the conditioning, limits, and classifications that were instilled in us since small children and just learn to 'play' again.
The book goes pretty in depth about how through time and by so many ways we lost our ability to 'play' and how to undo this 'conditioning and conformity' demands that were put on us so we can become the imaginative, empowering individuals we once were. How to deal with egos and the importance of keeping journals. There is a lot of truth in the book, careful observation by the author, and even quotes from famous people that stress the point the book is trying to make. While I found it all interesting, the chapter I really found most interesting was the "Exercising The Brain To Get In Mental Shape." It is full of great advise whether you want to do anything else in the book or not. This chapter alone will make your life a much happier, peaceful, and rewarding experience.
I did find a typo and format errors but nothing that is extremely distracting from this book and recommend it to everyone, old and young alike. Even parents and expecting parents can find useful information and perhaps insight on how to not restrict the power of 'play'. I know I will always remember the one statement, "Replace your ego-driven life dramas with selfless interactions" which are great words to live by.
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