Sometimes a magazine article can have a great impact on you.
When I watched this commencement address(2005 Kenyon college) by the late David Foster Wallace on youtube this weekend I was reminded of a great article by Adam Gopnick that I read in the New Yorker back in 1998. (Thanks to the archival power of the Internet I was able to go back and read it again online).
Gopnick tells the story of his six years of psychoanalysis. It's a lovely story, beautifully told.
What does he learn? As Foster Wallace points out the best insights are (or sound like) cliches. I don't want to ruin Gopnick's article by revealing the key insights.
Interestingly though they are not that different from those Foster Wallace urges upon the students.
In short, if you see the world only from your point of view you will be doomed to unhappiness - why is this traffic jam holding me up? etc.
And as Foster Wallace argues, you can choose to change the way you think about the world (through a liberal education or, perhaps as in Gopnik's experience, psychoanalysis).
Perhaps the real benefit of freedom is the capacity it gives us to choose.
The problem, as Foster Wallace points out, is that we have to keep making the choice real everyday - not easy.