5 Enslaving Habits We Must Avoid

“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.”

~ Abraham Lincoln Quote #13, part 1 of 2 of series titled, 16 Principles of Happiness from the 16th President.

“I would not be a slave …”

While the horror of slavery is thankfully dead as an institution, it sadly lives on in many other forms in many lives today, all around us, in ways maybe not considered slavery by some.
I hope to get you to reconsider. But let’s first define our terms:

Slave: “One that is totally subservient to a dominating influence.”

~ Merriam-Webster
There are 4 basic areas of life in which we can become totally subservient to dominating influences, and thereby live less-than-ideal and something less than happy lives.

5 Ways Slavery is Still with Us

1. Slavery to addictions. Whether we are talking about being enslaved to tobacco or alcohol, or whether we’re talking about enslavement to illicit material online or simply to the TV or to junk food or gossip, any addictions rob us of a measure of freedom and independence. But freedom is required for happiness. So anything that enslaves us limits the degree of joy we can have in life.
Sidenote: Any and all addiction should be avoided like the plague. Except, perhaps, being addicted to reading my blog! 😉
2. Slavery to the office: When spouse and family and our spiritual lives are playing second fiddle to the office, things are likely out of whack. Of course, there will be times, like the first few years of starting a business, when things will be lopsided. But if the office always is master and you are always its servant, then change may be needed for the fullness of a happy life to be experienced. Remember, your family is not a footnote to your journey. They are there in the thick of things, experiencing it with you, alongside you, maybe, in some ways, because of you. So give them the time of day, from time to time!
3. Slavery to success: When success becomes more important than integrity or honor or self-respect, then our subservience to the call of the dollar sign becomes self-destructive, as all addictions are. Happiness is robbed of its internal rewards when our insides are all twisted inside out as we compromise our values in the pursuit of wealth.
4. Slavery to pleasure: Is the pursuit of pleasure hurting your relationship with your spouse? Are you pursuing pleasure at the expense of your spouse’s pleasure? Is that pursuit violating sacred vows and trusts? Are you spending your family into debt as you chase pleasure from one mountain top to another – or one casino to another – or one vacation to another – or one, well, you get the idea.
5. Slavery to fear: Does fear and worry prevent you from taking steps to break free of a dissatisfying life? Do you wish for something more, but keep the door closed and locked and continue to do what you’ve always done? Are you trapped in a cycle of sameness, worried that if you tried to start a business, or tried to learn a skill, or tried an adventure on for size, or tried to learn to write or sing or climb, that you would fail and fall and sink and drown?


Slavery may be dead as a formal institution of human bondage, but it is alive and well in the hearts and minds and lives of too many people who have the ability to loose the shackles, but haven’t exercised the courage to do it yet.
“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.” These were the words of the author of the Emacipation Proclamation leaves us. B ut what shape and form should our emacipation take as we free ourselves from the bondage to outside circumstances? Come back tomorrow for part2 of this post to see the answer to just that question.

What Do You Think?

  • Did I leave anything off?
  • Can you think of any other areas of life where we can become enslaved?
  • Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Click on any of the posts in this series for further reading:

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