This discussion made me think about a book I’ve been reading by Esther and Jerry Hicks. In this book they talk about your thoughts and actions either going upstream or going downstream. If we use the example of traffic, upstream thoughts include worrying about being late to an appointment, getting angry with the drivers around you or letting frustration get the best of you as you sit and stew about being stuck. On the other hand downstream thoughts include accepting the fact that you are moving as fast as you can, realizing you are powerless in the situation and that stressing out about it will not do you any good. The authors give multiple examples to explain that the upstream/downstream concept relates to every life situation we face. If we feel like we are struggling, whether at work, at home, with a friend, spouse, family member or child, we are paddling upstream. Sometimes we believe that fighting our way through is the only way to get what we want, but they disagree. They explain the only way to move forward is to reframe the situation and start moving downstream. This does not mean that you have to just blindly accept the situation by giving in. It means you take the struggle out of the equation. The smallest shift in perspective can make a big difference. Using the traffic example, instead of being frustrated about how long it is taking, you use the time to enjoy listening to music or a book or catching up with a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. You’ll arrive at your destination with a much different attitude than if you sat in traffic worrying the entire time.
When we start riding downstream we’re happier, more relaxed, less stressed and have more energy to spend on things that we enjoy. Is there something in your life right now where you feel like you are trying to paddle upstream? What would it take for you to start turning that boat around?
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