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May the world be kind to you, and may your own thoughts be gentle upon yourself. - Jonathan Lockwood Huie

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Go With the Flow - Six Ways to Live a Happier Life

Most unhappiness comes from resisting life. Occasionally, we have such a strong commitment to changing the world order that it is worth struggling against the flow of life. Perhaps you have a cause such as universal veganism - your life is committed to preventing even one more animal from being eaten by anyone. But most people don't have that kind of dedication to a cause, and even for those who do, there is much of daily life that is not related to any particular issue of principle. Nonetheless, we live our lives as if each minor happening were a matter of life and death.

Our favorite restaurant has run out of today's blackboard special. The bananas in the grocery store are all green. The drawbridge is stuck in the "up" position. We have demands of the world, these demands aren't met, and we become disappointed and angry. Is that just human nature? Yes and no. It is human nature to prefer the predictable, but this preference becomes highly exaggerated in some societies. Twenty First Century America, especially in dense urban areas, has become the epitome of expectations and demands, which inevitably result in disappointment and anger as the world fails to meet these expectations. Demanding that the world meet our expectations has become a bad habit that causes great unhappiness. But it doesn't have to be that way. We can break the bad habit of being unhappy.

Think of life being like a mighty river, such as the Mississippi or the Amazon. Sometimes the river floods, sometimes it quiets. Sometimes it cuts a new course, drowning some farmland and leaving some old river bottom high and dry. One could fight the river and curse its vicissitudes, or one could sail on the river, fish in the river, drink from the river, irrigate crops from the river, and live happily on the river. Fighting against life, like fighting against a mighty river is a pointless waste of energy and upset. Within the constraints life sets and within its vagaries, we still have immense freedom of action. We can fully express our commitments and live life to the fullest without fighting against it.

To go with the flow of life, without compromising your values:

1. Visualize life as a river, and the challenge of living as being a river pilot. Keep your eye far enough downstream that you can gently maneuver toward your goal using the force of the river to power your journey. Think of setting your course as the game that it is. Outthink life, but don't try to overpower it.

2. Remember that life is not serious. You already know the final score: Life-1, You-0. So just have fun on your run down the river.

3. Take time for yourself. Breathe deeply. Take a quiet walk. Spend time alone in a natural setting and soak up the stillness.

4. Clear your mind of everything you thought you knew. Be like a child in having no preconceptions of how life should turn out. Visualize pouring water into a cup. That's like life flowing into a young child. Now visualize trying to pour clear water into a cup filled with mud. That is like the flow of creation being resisted by expectations and demands one attempts to place upon life.

5. Be grateful for all of life. Be thankful you are alive. Not to be thankful for life is to be like a starving person who is gifted a steak and complains that it is tough.

6. Dance lightly with life. Dancing with life is like dancing with an elephant. She makes a jolly partner so long as you watch her moves, react quickly, and don't get stepped on.

Certainly there are times when a cause is worth fighting for - and the battle is winnable. But most times, battling against circumstances is unproductive and produces only suffering. Choose acceptance and serenity.

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
- Reinhold Niebuhr (Serenity Prayer)


  1. haha. I loved this one, especially number 2. I never thought of it that way, but it is true. Thank you.

  2. I am just in awe! I now have refreshing view of life. This is so profound. Thank you

  3. How true, especially #2. Some great words of wisdom.

  4. I hope this can help me a lot..

  5. Thank you for the wonderful post. Reading this is a great way to start my day!

  6. This is inspiring Life has cornered me and I have to make the best of it.

  7. This is just what I needed for where I am now. Thank you so much.

  8. I could not agree any less than the person above. Thank you for such wonderful words. :)

  9. will defo try #1 and look forward to #3...ahh bliss haha ty :)

  10. Great inspiration. I love it, it works

  11. I am going through a terrible struggle in my marriage, I wish I could heed these words, but if I did I think I would walk away from everything I've worked for, and the opportunity for my kids to have a two natural parents raising them. These are lovely words, but putting it all into action is not so easy.

    1. I to am struggling in my marriage and trying really hard not to give up and walk away. I wish these words were much easier to put into play especially with my struggle.

    2. Beautiful senses through the words you've penned.Thank you, Aideen

  12. for "terrible struggle":

    We make many tradeoffs in life, and just do the best we can. What is important is to appreciate the range of options that are open to us. Many people fail to even consider options that involve making significant changes to their way of life.

    Choosing the option nearest at hand can often turn out to be the best choice after all - but hopefully after carefully considering all the available options.

  13. Just wanted to Thank You for all the Motivational Quotes and Sayings that yo send my way each day....

  14. For "terrible struggle", to keep the children in a home where the parents are not in love or happy, teaches those children nothing. They grow up to think that coldness and angry words are what a marriage is supposed to be. It was very difficult for me to leave a bad marriage, but I did and my 3 kids are the better for it.

  15. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the wonderful Motivational quotes n Sayings. These are enjoyed by many others too when I keep forwarding them.

  16. Love these lessons, attempting to live by them and teach them daily!

  17. Happiness comes to them who opens their door for small treats that life provides to them. So be happy and live longer!

  18. Im more amazed and less stressed everyday with these wonderful and inspiring quotes and the advice that comes with them

  19. This was so very motivating and encouraging!!! i am going through so much in my life right now and this has surely given me a total different outlook on my new beginning!! I truly appreciate all the wonderful words and i put all my faith in God and he has never let me down so far and I know He will not in the present or future!!! Thank you once again and I look forward to a new path in life!!!!

  20. This really made my day because I was feeling a little down and depressed but now I have a better outlook on life as a whole!!! Thank you once again!!! God is so good!!!

  21. I don't post like I should feel so much,calmer after reading your quotes .I especially like the travel quote I read today.I actually think I can go to an event or on a vacation without wanting to get right back home.Thats a big step for me.Thanks

  22. Love this so much. Thank you.

  23. "Life is like standing in a river, the water is always changing."
    African tribal saying.


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