Why go with the flow? Isn’t standing out and going against crowd mentality the smarter thing to do?
As with everything else in life, it’s all about context.
In this case, I am talking about how life “messes” with us. Like this week – I had everything all planned out so that I would be inspired and at 110% productivity. Then the San Antonio Spurs got wiped out – again – by the Golden State Warriors. Then I got news that there is a legal thing I have to deal with ASAP. Things just went downhill from there. And so did I.
Still, there were (are) moments when I remember inspiring words.
All you can do is plan to go unplanned, prepare to be unprepared, make going with the flow part of your agenda, for the most successful among us envision, plan, and prepare, but cast all aside as needed, while those who are unable to go with the flow often suffer, if they survive.
– David W. Jones
So, as much as I want to tear my hair out or curl up in a ball, I try to accept these things and go with the flow.
TRY being the operative word.
Maybe you’re currently struggling with events in your life right now, too. If so, maybe you need to learn to go with the flow.
Easier said than done, sure, but there are simple ways to get it done.
How to go with the flow
It all starts with grabbing hold of yourself mentally and stopping your downward spiral.
Stop. Take a moment. Then breathe.
Take another deep breath. And another.
You’ll be in a better state of mind after a minute (or 5!) of simply breathing.
2. Acknowledge that you can’t control everything
We know in our head that we can’t control everything. I can’t control my internet connection acting up when I have tons of work to do. I can’t make other people do what they need to do.
It’s the same for you. There are critical things in your life that you can’t control, and when things go awry, there are two options.
One, drive yourself crazy with frustration. Two, accept that you don’t have control over everything AND that you can only control how you act.
Again – there’s that huge gap between theory and practice.
What are we to do?
Verbalize. Tell yourself you can’t control everything. Say it out loud. Let whatever it is go…
Find a course of action. Can’t do anything about a dead internet connection? First, call the provider. Second, find an alternative – your mobile? A coffee shop? Third, let your boss/clients know.“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” - Steve Maraboli Click To Tweet
3. Acknowledge life’s imperfections
Life isn’t perfect. Period.
The perfectionist never achieves contentment because there is no such thing as real perfection. So, when your day doesn’t go as planned, remind yourself that that’s just the way things are and that you don’t have to give in to anger or depression.
Instead, once again, tell yourself (aloud) that life has a way of taking a turn when you want to go straight ahead. Then go with it. You never know what you’ll come upon along the way…it could even be something better than you originally planned.
4. Get (or change) perspective
Perspective is everything. Glass half-full, half-empty. You know all that.
Cliches aside, having the right perspective will make a world of difference.
When something goes wrong, ask yourself this: if I look back at this moment next month or next year, how much will it matter? The chances are that you’ll see the bigger picture and learn to go with the flow.
Or, look at it from another angle. You’ll be sure to find something positive, or at the very least, less frustrating.“The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.” - Oscar Wilde Click To Tweet
5. Close your eyes and float
I’m not a good swimmer, but I do know how to float and it is an enjoyable experience – better than thrashing around in the middle of the pool, panicking because I can’t get to safety.
I guess sometimes, it’s the same with life. We may not all be good swimmers, but we can all let go and float. There are times when we should fight and stand up for ourselves, but there are times when we just have to realize and accept that “things happen”. There doesn’t even have to be a reason. Things just happen.
And when they do, sometimes floating down river is the best thing you can do for yourself. Oh, close your eyes and feel the warmth of the sun while you’re at it.
One last word: practice.
Learning to go with the flow doesn’t happen overnight. Every single day, you’ll probably have to do these things until you get better at accepting things in life you can’t change.