Salmon swim upstream. Swimming upstream is hard. Don’t be a salmon.
We have all heard the mantras, “go with the flow” or “ride the wave.” What that really means in life is a bit evasive. They sound good, but how does one go with the flow or ride the wave in life. Going with the flow seems so much easier and more fun than swimming upstream like a salmon.
The problem with the ‘go with the flow’ mentality is that society has drilled into our heads that we should be working really hard. We should be suffering a little, or we probably are not doing something right. This Puritanical thinking gets diluted with each generation much to the dismay of the previous generation, however, we still have these beliefs that we need to work really, really hard, or we won’t get what we want out of life.
Most of us want happy, healthy, and productive lives. What that means to different people varies wildly. Some people believe they can only be happy if they have a strong sense of control over their lives, they know exactly where they are going, and how much money will be in their bank account every step of the way.
While that might sound good, none of us actually has a strong sense of control, know where we are going for sure, or can guarantee an amount of money that will be present in the bank at any one point in time. Life is full of surprises, twists and turns. Some fun and exciting, others not so much. We get sick, people stumble, weather happens, we mature, our needs change, we have new responsibilities that we never imagined, etc.
Life is unpredictable no matter how hard we work to make it predictable. Fear of the future will drive you insane if you don’t do something about it. Unfortunately, most of us try to combat the unpredictability of life by working harder to create the ever evasive sense of control. After all, if you are in control of your life, you should feel pretty calm because you can make whatever you want happen.
Even though we all know this is flawed thinking, we still try. We still attempt to swim upstream to feel better about the unpredictability of life. We become salmon. What you may not know about salmon is that typically most species end their upstream swim by laying their eggs in the shallow, calm waters where they were born, and then they die.
The same goes for people, you spend your entire life swimming upstream, working really hard in hopes that you will feel better about your life or accomplish your goal, however, just like a salmon, at the end of your upstream battle, you die.
Not to be morbid, just honest. Whatever you believe happens to you after you die, you know you can’t take any of your worldly goods, dollars, or accomplishments with you. So, why do we keep working so very hard in a life that awards us with nothing in the end (at least nothing worldly). And, honestly, no one, no matter how hard they work can stave off life’s ups and downs. Things happen, and no amount of money in the bank or hours worked will stop things from happening (even the really bad things).
What we need to focus on is trust. We must trust in ourselves, meaning I know I will be OK no matter what happens, good or bad. If I really believe I will be OK no matter what happens because I know I am loving and wise, then I might be able to relax a little. Maybe I don’t have to work so very hard. What if I stopped and rested, smelled the roses, and started to not worry about the future so much?
I also must trust “the flow” or “the wave” borrowed from the aforementioned metaphors. The flow or the wave refers to the energetic movement of the Universe (some may even call it God’s plan). Sounds very abstract. It isn’t. We know when we are in the flow of the Universe when we are following our passion or heart. If we are working a job that we are passionate about, it doesn’t “feel” like work. It isn’t hard to get up and go to work because, well, it brings us energy rather than drain us of energy. If we work at a job we do not like, it is so very hard. We become very drained and even sick over time. This is swimming upstream like a salmon. We think we are doing the right thing by working hard, however, if it feels like we are swimming upstream, then we are not following the energy of the Universe. That usually does not work out well in the end. You may make money, but at what cost? You may be labeled a success, but are you happy?
So many of us do not believe we can be OK if we follow our true passion. I would ask, how can we not be OK? I know by experience when I am doing something because I think I “should” or believe it is the “right thing to do,” I end up with less than optimal results. I work very hard and remain unfulfilled. When I worry about the future, I waste valuable energy that does nothing to control the future. When I work a job I dislike, I expend lots of energy for very little payoff. I do not meet my ultimate goal of being happy and healthy.
If I literally ride the wave the Universe sends me, then I end up following my passions and my heart. I am deeply fulfilled. I am following the plan uniquely designed for my highest good. That might not result in millions of dollars in the bank (you might consider that money does not buy happiness). However, your happiness will attract some pretty wonderful things to your life: other happy people, opportunities, love, fun, joy, abundance, and maybe even millions of dollars. Who knows?!?
The whole point is that life is like a wave, we have no idea where it is taking us. So, stop fighting it, and start enjoying the ride. Relax and trust that you will be OK no matter where you end up. This took me years to even attempt because I was so anxious and fearful.
I realized that despite my fear and anxiety, I was not stopping any of life’s challenges from coming. Once I realized my efforts were futile, I decided to give riding the wave a try. I started doing only those things that felt right. When I worked, I didn’t worry about making enough money or how everything would turn out. I just loved what I did and trusted everything else would be fine. I didn’t worry about how to build my business, I just trusted that if I was on the right path and was passionate about what I was doing (and didn’t doubt myself), all would be good.
Guess what? Everything is good. I am tempted in moments to worry about the future, about what might need to happen, or about what might not happen. That worry is a lot of work. When I do not trust in the Universe and follow it’s breadcrumbs, I end up lost in a pretty unpleasant forest.
If you find yourself feeling like a salmon swimming upstream, stop, take a breath, relax for a bit, and see where the river is actually trying to take you. You might be surprised where you end up!