One of the earliest life lessons I can recall is that the best things in life are free. I will admit that this is a saying that I didn’t fully appreciate until recently, if only for how misleading it is.

It could be more appropriately said that nothing in life is free. Sure, there are things in life that cost no money, but many of those will cost us all the same.

If you get a deal with a purchase that offers free items with the transaction, you still have to make the purchase to make that acquisition.

You may be offered a free piece of furniture, if you’ll only pick it up yourself. You make be offered a free sample, but the journey to where it was offered still cost you.

Freedom is something that can be considered relative and situational. Most people can agree that not having the freedom to kill indiscriminately is a good thing, for example. Many rules and regulations constrain freedom for good reasons, or enhance it by removing greater threats from our life.

Things that cost time are still not free. It is much the same as buying those same items for money, since your money represents the time you have spent labouring.

Time is the most valuable currency, since all of us have a finite amount given to us for our lifetime. There is no way to be returned lost time, and there is no way to gain more when we have truly run out.

Many of us throw time away more readily than money, yet if we are ever close to being deprived of our life we spare no expense to save it.

These are ideas and concepts explored thoroughly in ‘On the Shortness of Life’, by Seneca. It’s an older work of stoic philosophy that describes this experience quite well.

If you ever get the opportunity, I’d recommend reading it. Might want to skip on the last section, though. Seneca can be a bit pessimistic.

Rather than forever worrying ourselves about whether or not something really is as free as we believe it to be, then, we should focus on doing the things that give us the greatest fulfilment. Otherwise we can worry about something and avoid it so much that we’ve used more energy than we would have if we’d gone ahead and done it in the first place.

Sometimes you’ve just got to go for what you want, rather than trying to take the easiest or ‘cheapest’ route. Life doesn’t get discounts.

If you do nothing else today, ask yourself this – what can you do to make your life truly free?