How To Break Free From Preferences That Make You Suffer

I bet you’d like more freedom in your life.

What elements of your life feel like jail?  Is it your marriage, career, parenthood, or your habits?

Are Your Preferences Jailing You?

I’ve observed that one of the most secure prisons we lock ourselves into is the prison of our preferences.

I have a ton of preferences, more than the average person it seems – for my food, drink, temperature, orderliness, predictability, noise, and on and on.

I’ve realized that all these preferences mostly cause me suffering. When I achieve them, I feel basically neutral, but when I’m not getting what I prefer, the natural tendency is to feel put-out.

Even worse, I used to constrain my life so that I could achieve my preferences as much as possible. That was tiring and limiting, and frankly, it got boring. It was the opposite of freedom.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have preferences. I believe that the fundamental purpose of this human experience is to expand and grow. Our ever-evolving preferences create the fuel for that expansion.

But you can live a better life by dropping your sense of importance around your preferences. You don’t have to become a monk and give up all of your belongings.

It’s not a matter of depriving yourself. Instead, you become selective about when and how you apply your preferences.

How To Break Free From The Preferences That Keeps Locked Down

As a first step, when faced with a situation that isn’t to your preference, notice that feeling of irritation or discomfort. Remind yourself that feeling that way is optional. Then look for some way to find the advantage in the current situation, or see if you can actually change your preference.

When you do this, you’ll feel better at that moment, and you’ll be developing the skill of thinking with intention, instead of just thinking and reacting on autopilot.

Secondly, you can go out of your way to do things that are contrary to your preferences. These can be little things. Turn the shower to cold at the end for 5 seconds. Sit around with cold feet. Go someplace noisy. Don’t have a drink when you would prefer to have one.


If you’ll do this as a regular practice, you will see big improvements in your resilience, discipline, and general attitude. As you develop these qualities, you’ll find yourself much more able to create a life that supports the preferences that really matter, and that supports growth and expansion.

*** A song on the theme:

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