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Leo Babauta – Focus – Going With The Flow – 7 March 2013

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Leo Babauta – Focus – Going With The Flow – 7 March 2013

Posted on March 7, 2013 by lucas2012infos | Leave a comment

is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them –
that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow
naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ~Lao-Tzu

No matter how much structure we create in our lives, no matter how
many good habits we build, there will always be things that we cannot
control — and if we let them, these things can be a huge source of
anger, frustration and stress.

The simple solution: learn to go with the flow.

For example, let’s say you’ve created the perfect peaceful morning
routine. You’ve structured your mornings so that you do things that
bring you calm and happiness. And then a water pipe bursts in your
bathroom and you spend a stressful morning trying to clean up the mess
and get the pipe fixed.

You get angry. You are disappointed, because you didn’t get to do
your morning routine. You are stressed from all these changes to what
you’re used to. It ruins your day because you are frustrated for the
rest of the day.

Not the best way to handle things, is it? And yet if we are honest,
most of us have problems like this, with things that disrupt how we like
things, with people who change what we are used to, with life when it
doesn’t go the way we want it to go.

Go with the flow.

What is going with the flow? It’s rolling with the punches. It’s
accepting change without getting angry or frustrated. It’s taking what
life gives you, rather than trying to mold life to be exactly as you
want it to be.

And what does this have to do with focusing? It’s a reality that no
matter how much we try to control our environment, so that we may focus
on what’s important, there will be interruptions and distractions. Our
environment will constantly change, and we cannot completely control it.

And so, we must learn to accept this reality, and find focus within a changing environment. Here’s how.

  1. Realize that you can’t control everything. I think
    we all know this at some level, but the way we think and act and feel
    many times contradicts this basic truth. We don’t control the universe,
    and yet we seem to wish we could. All the wishful thinking won’t make it
    so. You can’t even control everything within your own little sphere of
    influence — you can influence things, but many things are simply out of
    your control. In the example above, you can control your morning
    routine, but there will be things that happen from time to time
    (someone’s sick, accident happens, phone call comes at 5 a.m. that
    disrupts things, etc.) that will make you break your routine. First step
    is realizing that these things will happen. Not might happen, but will.
    There are things that we cannot control that will affect every aspect
    of our lives, and we must must must accept that, or we will constantly
    be frustrated. Meditate on this for awhile.
  2. Become aware. You can’t change things in your head
    if you’re not aware of them. You have to become an observer of your
    thoughts, a self-examiner. Be aware that you’re becoming upset, so that
    you can do something about it. It helps to keep tally marks in a little
    notebook for a week — every time you get upset, put a little tally.
    That’s all — just keep tally. And soon, because of that little act, you
    will become more aware of your anger and frustration.
  3. Breathe. When you feel yourself getting angry or
    frustrated, take a deep breath. Take a few. This is an important step
    that allows you to calm down and do the rest of the things below.
    Practice this by itself and you’ll have come a long way already.
  4. Get perspective. If you get angry over something
    happening — your car breaks down, your kids ruin something you’re
    working on — take a deep breath, and take a step back. Let your mind’s
    eye zoom away, until you’re far away above your life. Then whatever
    happened doesn’t seem so important. A week from now, a year from now,
    this little incident won’t matter a single whit. No one will care, not
    even you. So why get upset about it? Just let it go, and soon it won’t
    be a big deal.
  5. Practice. It’s important to realize that, just like
    when you learn any skill, you probably won’t be good at this at first.
    Who is good when they are first learning to write, or read, or drive? No
    one I know. Skills come with practice. So when you first learn to go
    with the flow, you will mess up. You will stumble and fall. That’s OK —
    it’s part of the process. Just keep practicing, and you’ll get the hang
    of it.
  6. Laugh. It helps to see things as funny, rather than
    frustrating. Car broke down in the middle of traffic and I have no cell
    phone or spare tire? Laugh at my own incompetence. Laugh at the
    absurdity of the situation. That requires a certain amount of detachment
    — you can laugh at the situation if you’re above it, but not within it.
    And that detachment is a good thing. If you can learn to laugh at
    things, you’ve come a long way. Try laughing even if you don’t think
    it’s funny — it will most likely become funny.
  7. Realize that you can’t control others. This is one
    of the biggest challenges. We get frustrated with other people, because
    they don’t act the way we want them to act. Maybe it’s our kids, maybe
    it’s our spouse or significant other, maybe it’s our coworker or boss,
    maybe it’s our mom or best friend. But we have to realize that they are
    acting according to their personality, according to what they feel is
    right, and they are not going to do what we want all of the time. And we
    have to accept that. Accept that we can’t control them, accept them for
    who they are, accept the things they do. It’s not easy, but again, it
    takes practice.
  8. Accept change and imperfection. When we get things
    the way we like them, we usually don’t want them to change. But they
    will change. It’s a fact of life. We cannot keep things the way we want
    them to be … instead, it’s better to learn to accept things as they are.
    Accept that the world is constantly changing, and we are a part of that
    change. Also, instead of wanting things to be “perfect” (and what is
    perfect anyway?), we should accept that they will never be perfect, and
    we must accept good instead.
  9. Enjoy life as a flow of change, chaos and beauty.
    Remember when I asked what “perfect” is, in the paragraph above? It’s
    actually a very interesting question. Does perfect mean the ideal life
    and world that we have in our heads? Do we have an ideal that we try to
    make the world conform to? Because that will likely never happen.
    Instead, try seeing the world as perfect the way it is. It’s messy,
    chaotic, painful, sad, dirty … and completely perfect. The world is
    beautiful, just as it is. Life is not something static, but a flow of
    change, never staying the same, always getting messier and more chaotic,
    always beautiful. There is beauty in everything around us, if we look
    at it as perfect.

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” ~Lao Tzu / link to original article

Thanks to:

  I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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