The 21 Day Freedom Challenge

The 21 Day Freedom Challenge

Celebrating the Fourth of July this week I heard the word freedom tossed around a lot.

George Washington won our freedom from the British and the American military has kept us free since and it’s wonderful.

I teach many Indian students whose parents were born in India and immigrated to America to earn a college degree, find a job, and start a family–achieve the proverbial “American dream.”

Many of my Indian students spend their summer visiting family they still have in India.

“Do you like going to India?”, I asked one student on the last day of school when he told me he was leaving for India is a few days.

“For a couple days. Then it gets real boring.”

“Why does it get boring?”

“My cellphone doesn’t work over there.”

In a country where we have the freedom to do what we want and be who we want to be (as long as our choices do not infringe on other’s freedoms) are we really free?

This past week, while on vacation at the New Jersey shore, I found myself on my cellphone more than usual. Checking social media, worried I might miss something.

Instead of experiencing my own live sunsets I was scrolling through Facebook experiencing pixelated sunsets in Florida, Alaska, and Rome.

What’s more–when I woke in the morning the first thing I did was check my cellphone.

Now that my vacation is over, I’m disappointed in myself. I should have had more self-control.

I’m a big fan of Ryan Holiday.

Ryan is a writer, thinker, and entrepreneur.

His books Ego is the Enemy, The Obstacle is the Way, and The Daily Stoic are massively important books to me. In fact, whenever someone asks me for a book suggestions I always recommend those three books.

Holiday, who draws inspiration and insight from Stoicism, uses the teachings of ancient Greek philosophers to navigate our modern problems.

A few days ago, I received an email invitation to join Ryan’s 21 Day Freedom Challenge. A challenge to help people be more productive and discover their freedom again.

If you’re like me, whenever we’re first offered help we decline and say thanks but no thanks. I got this.

Then I thought about what I what to accomplish this summer (the book, continuing my own version of VRT)  how it’s already the second week in July, and how I was wasting precious time on my cellphone.

So I left my cellphone on the dresser, went to the beach, and realized how relaxed, how present I was.

When I came back to the house I signed up for the 21 Day Freedom Challenge which I starts today– July 8th.

I will update you throughout the week on how the Challenge is going. I will offer you my takeaways and realizations.

In addition to the Challenge, for the next 7 days, I’m instituting a no-cellphone- before-noon policy on myself.

Along with the many yachts and private jets I own, being a public school teacher also affords me the luxury of having the summers off.

For the next 7 days, I plan to fill my summer mornings with exercising, reading, and writing. Turning off my phone and turning into myself. Again, I’ll keep you posted.

In our free land, so much is out of our control.

We do not control the opinions or attitudes or people’s Facebook postings.   We do not control traffic or weather or the price of boardwalk ice cream.

In the free land the only thing we control is our choice and our response. If we don’t like the results or feel we’re not using our time wisely we have to have courage to change our behavior.

Be well,


I’m writing a book for young men about young men and their mental health. The working title is “Why are the Suburban Boys Killing Themselves?”

The book was inspired by the life and death of one of my students and the growing mental health crisis facing young suburban men.

If you would like to help with the project in anyway–interview suggestions, reading or research suggestions–you can email me at

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