The weaker the body, the more it commands, the stronger the body, the more it obeys — Jean-Jacques Rousseau
German philosopher Immanuel Kant provides the most compelling conception of freedom, he asserts that authentic freedom is realised when one acts according to a law that they give themselves.
This articulation of freedom is admittedly challenging, how can one stay consistent in it?
I choose exercise.
The usefulness of challenging physical activity in the pursuit of human excellence is championed by Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympic Games. The energising ability of exercise is potently described as creating “a fervent soul in a trained body”. This fervency is sustained through the pleasurable realisation of flow.
The concept of flow, introduced by Hungarian psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is wonderfully explained by Evan Puschak, also known as ‘The Nerdwritter’. A state of flow is achieved when an individual participates in any activity where there is an extended devotion to craft, the task must challenge them and they must have the skills to meet the challenge. The supreme focus and euphoria which occurs during a flow state is available to poets, athletes, nurses and business-people alike.
The transcendent quality of flow is central to the attainment of authentic freedom, a freedom which is realised through a life lived in accordance to a standard we place upon ourselves. This reach towards self-actualisation is unquestionably challenging, it often requires the subjection of the will to that standard, the flow state that accompanies demanding excursions of the intellect or body serves to weaken this resistance, bringing us every closer to our ideal selves, and the ineffable reality of life.