like a river flows copy“I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding,” said John O’Donohue. There is something in that quote that probably resonates with all of us. To live like a bubbling brook, free, unencumbered by image, perception, expectations, or  worries – boy, wouldn’t that be the bomb?  There are so many famous quotes out there that liken life to a river, that encourage us to just flow, yes, flow – as in ‘go with the flow.’

I can’t tell you how many decades it took for me to firmly embrace that concept like a childhood teddy bear. It’s so right. It’s so fabulous, yet so misunderstood. You hear ‘go with the flow’ and think, “What? Am I supposed to just take what comes and just like it? Am I supposed to just float down that river like a beach ball and not care about what tributary it takes me down? What if it floats me right off the edge of the Niagara Falls?”

Here’s my interpretation of the metaphors. We’re all navigating this river of life which always passes through the banks of pleasure and pain. It’s easy to get caught up on one of the shores, and that’s where the sticky-icky lies. Yearnings reflect our memories of pleasure, and our fears reflect memories of painful life events.  So, as desire is the memory of joy and contentment – we want, want, want for more of what we’ve had and what we haven’t had but think we want. This wanting, yearning, aching for what ‘is not’ makes us miss the joy of ‘what is.’ Not only do we miss the joy of the moment, we can begin to feel the yucky lower level emotions like envy, jealousy, lack, anger or sadness. Those are some of the down sides to getting hung up on or too attached to the desire bank of the river. On the other shore is pain. None of us want to get hung up on this shore but we do. Our past painful experiences cloud our perceptions. We think because one boyfriend cheated, all men will cheat. We then treat the honest, well-intentioned man with disdain and distrust, hurting the relationship. We think because one business partner didn’t carry their weight, no partner will ever work. We miss out on opportunities and limit possibilities.  We carry hurts and make them part of our story and how we move forward, or worse, don’t move forward. These are but a couple of examples of getting stuck on the pain side of the river.

In navigating this mammoth river, my first recommendation is to let go and live in flow with your life. Be like an expert tuber in the picture. If you paddle like mad toward the desired shore, you’ll miss the camaraderie of the moment. You’ll work twice as hard to get to where everyone is going to end up anyways. If you get dumped over  and all mad that your hair is wet and your mascara is running, well, stuck on the pain shore, you are missing the fun once again. The river is the journey.  Let your faith and the Supreme, like the invisible air in your inner tube, gently guide you and keep you afloat.

My second recommendation (and shameless plug), is to get my new book, Lunchtime Joy Magnet, which is coming out this Friday, 6/3. It basically gives you the tools for taming the mind to flow with grace and gratitude between these banks of pleasure and pain. I recommend it, because I truly feel it can make anyone’s life better. That is the goal of the book — to make your life better, more positive and joyous.  And, it can do this with your practice and dedication. Ask most anyone you know that has a high baseline of happiness how they do it, and they will probably tell you that it is a choice. Making the choice is the first step. Knowing how to catch, identify, and trim away old, entrenched subconscious negative patterns and beliefs that are serving as blocks to this choice is where the book helps immensely. It’s not rocket science, although scientists are now giving us a lot of guidance in this area. It’s only a matter of instilling new positive habits and pruning away the undesirable neural pathways that enslave us in endless loops of negativity. I hope with all my heart that this book will give you the practical and easy tools you need to flow with that river – let go, love, be grateful, wondrous and forever happy! Blessings!

Sandra M Bell
Author of “Lunchtime Joy Magnet” & personal coach