You heard the phrase “going with the flow” thousand times and definitely have your own interpretation about it. A sizable humans I know associate the phrase with being lazy and passive about whatever happening and advise going against the flow instead.
What exactly is “flow” by the way?
Simply, flow is how it happens in the river — steady, continuous and unstoppable, and flow is how it happens in the sea – carefree, speedy and relentless.
According to dictionary, flow is to move or run smoothly with unbroken continuity, as in the manner characteristic of a fluid.
So, “unbroken continuity” is the key.
How many times did you find that you are stuck with a personal/professional/ emotional breakdown and unable to find the way to get out of it?
How many times did you find that you started a great routine like exercising everyday/going for morning walk but couldn’t continue with that for long?
How many times did you find that there is nothing interesting/adventurous happening in the life and that it has become boring/monotonous?
How many times do you feel broken, sad and disappointed because things turned out to be exactly opposite to what you expected?
How many times did you think that you are trying so hard to do something, achieve something, get something, but it’s just not happening?
If you have even experienced any of the above once, this means that you are not living a life of unbroken continuity. You are being stopped every moment by unexpected occurrences, unanticipated behaviors of others, unforeseen situations and everyday barriers. You are trapped, stuck, shackled and impounded by things happened around you in past and your interpretations about the things happened around you.
That for sure is not what flow is.
Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.
In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task.
Writers, public speakers, singers, sports persons, painters and even engineers shall tell you that the best of their creations could happen when they felt doing it in flow.
No matter how great a cricketer is, things do not work in right order when he is not in form, and once he got the flow, you see the wonders happening.
No matter how hard a writer tries, sometimes the things just do not come and once they comes in flow it begins to happen automatically and spontaneously.
Apparently, Best things happen when you are in flow and do not just happen if you are not, no matter how much you try.
“Go with the flow” is just one sentence and has the whole way of living wrapped up in itself. Regardless of what you are going through and what you are looking to achieve, what has happened and what has not happened, why and why not did it happen the way it happened, how should and should not it happen, going with flow is the magical answer to just about everything that has happened, is happening and going to happen with you and around you.
Going with the flow isn’t about being passive or lazy. It’s not about just letting things happen “to you”. It’s not aimless wandering.
Going with flow is about rolling with punches, doing what you are doing with authenticity, not interpreting/making meaning out of others behaviors, choosing the people and situations as they are and as they are not, being responsible for your own actions and happiness, being in the present and creating possibilities of best in every moment and in every situation what so ever.
Going with flow is about living an enjoyable life, having extraordinary relationships, highly successful businesses and great professions, having happiness, gaining satisfaction, loving and being loved.
So if flow is the way of living, life can be considered like water.
Think about it for a moment. Without any thought or effort, water has an ineffable way of always doing precisely what is appropriate. It simply does its water-thing, flowing when it’s time to flow, stagnating when it’s time to be still, changing shape to fit its every container perfectly. Without striving or worrying about anything, water manages to sustain all life on Earth, to rise to the heavens and to fall back to the soil, to carve valleys and canyons out of solid stone. Water does all of this not by wielding some kind of superpower, but by being nothing more and nothing less than itself.
Back in my teenage I heard that there is possibility to earn money by working on the internet. One of my neighbor’s, David uncle’s son who was living in US for last 7 years told on one of his India trips that he makes his living by working on internet and it gave him a terrific living so far. The idea was so interesting but I heard only bad stories about internet based work. A cousin brother of mine was trapped and dooped a big amount of money just around that time and there were other people who I talked, meet and got to know who ordered things that never delivered, worked hard that never paid and bought programs that never benefited.
Considering those demoralizing stories, I made an interpretation that the only possible way of earning money is in the real world and not on the internet.
I came across some people who started working on the internet just in front of me and earned substantial money but I used to get reluctant even in calling a phone number that was given on the internet, working something online was just out of question.
Just about that time I got an email in which the person wanted me to create a simple excel sheet with some custom formulas for him and was ready to pay 10 dollars (about INR 500 at that time).
This person saw my skills and email address on one of the sites I just casually registered myself, and emailed me.
Affected by my interpretations about internet based work, I thought this is fishy and someone is just wanting to doop me. However, a part of myself stood out and chosen to accept the work. I chosen to let go all of my fears and interpretation about internet based work. The least that would happen is that I won’t be paid, and hence I took up the task of developing excel sheet for this person who emailed me.
Work got complete and I was paid 13 dollars (3 dollars bonus for additional formulas I have provided).
This was the moment I realized that things do not work on the internet was just my own story and my own interpretation and not reality. I found a lot of people complaining about internet based businesses because I was pessimistic myself. I found a lot of people drooped because I had a risk of getting drooped myself.
I was stopping myself due to my self-made interpretation and was not looking to the realm of possibilities that existed. Today, 99 percent of my earning comes from internet or internet based businesses. I do all sorts of stuff on the internet ranging from writing content for blogs/books to developing software solutions, creating podcasts to consulting businesses, building strategies to marketing various products and what not. I have 40 people working with me in the venture and many others who just work through internet. There are so many clients around the world who I never met but have done business of hundreds of thousand dollars till date.
I’m sure I would have not been what I am if I did not decide to let go my self-made interpretations, accept what life had to offer and go with the flow.
Not that I always had pleasant experiences while working on the internet, but each time someone runs away with my work/money, I choose to take that at it comes and look forward in greater possibilities. I believe that stopping due to some people who did not pay for the work they got done or those who did not deliver for what I paid them would just not be fair.
Each time I get an unpleasant experience I have 2 choices:
1. Make interpretation about it, change my perspective and do not pursue what did not yield results
2. Simply take what happened, do not form any story/interpretation about it and look for greater and better possibilities.
I mostly choose the ladder and it mostly works out for me.
This and a lot of other things that have happened in my life so far, I realized that the life like water, just flows. It is never right or wrong, good or evil, successful or failing; it simply is.
Its we, human beings who make meaning what’s good, what’s bad, what’s wrong, what’s write, what’s failure and what’s success. Even all these meanings and interpretations are very subjective and what’s wrong for one may not be for other. What success means to one may mean failure to other and so on.
Life is just a series of events and occurrences. Its completely on our personal choice what we make out of it. I believe that if we just stop striving, stop over-exerting, stop seeking, and stop worrying, things just naturally arise in their own splendid way.
Being in the flow means letting go the past and looking in the future, forgive people with compassion and love everyone, stop complaining, start living with integrity and simply choose to take the life as it comes.
I’m not here to confer any philosophy or drone on any religious/spiritual bla.
Actually, all of us have already read a lot of such books and heard a lot of those speeches and lectures, and wonder if what is said is really possible.
In fact I was absolutely broken, dissatisfied, depressed, dejected, disappointed and forlorn myself for a considerable long time, and hence I know it’s easier said than done.
However, I can tell from my personal experience that its way more simple than we think about it and its just the matter of being in the present, being true and authentic to yourself and to the world, taking the responsibility of your own happiness, stop complaining and finding the possibilities in everything that you do and it all shapes itself.
If the sky above seems cloudy,
And you are left out in the rain,
If you are searching for a rainbow,
But the colors bring you pain,
If your world is not revolving,
And there is no end in sight,
If you are looking for the sunshine,
But all you see is night,
If all around are smiling,
But all you can do is frown,
If you are tired of all this living,
When life just brings you down,
Then look beyond your teardrops,
At the wonders of this land,
The beauty of a flower,
Like velvet in your hand.
Feel the air around you,
The smell of new mown hay,
Laughing children in the park,
The innocence there at play,
Imagine floating with a butterfly,
As she flutters between the trees,
Or the whispers of the ocean,
On warm hot summer’s breeze,
Think of the taste of candy floss,
As it melts upon your tongue,
Or the melody of morning birds,
As they greet each day with song,
Remember words of beauty,
Told in your mother’s embrace,
Feel the gentleness of her touch,
As she softly kissed your face,
Seek the good within you,
Cast the clouds from your sky,
Don’t look toward the pavement,
But hold your head up high,
Think not what life owes you,
But of all you have to give,
Forget about tomorrow,
Then you can start to live.
So bless this age you are living in,
With the gifts you can bestow,
Don’t disregard the stream of life,
Go gently with the flow!
I would love to know what your experiences, thoughts, opinions and perspectives are about going with flow, whether or not you believe in what I said, why and why not.