Stream of water running through a valleyIn my last post I promised ideas to help you flow with life versus forcing it. If you’ve been trying to force life to happen on your terms and your timeline, you can probably recognize it because you’ve expended tremendous energy and effort for minimal gain. It feels as if you are swimming upstream.

And that’s what’s happening. You are trying to reach your goals and destination by mainly using logic and manual effort instead of trusting a universal, unseen current that yearns to whisk you on a great adventure. The current knows where it’s going so stop resisting and let it do the hard work.

Will the ride be easy, a gentle river winding the entire way to your ultimate destination? Not at all. You will have to navigate and survive multiple rapids on your journey. Sometimes the current will smash you against massive boulders. You’ll be sore, perhaps a little bloodied, but as those unyielding rocks fade in the distance, your wounds will heal and you’ll be smarter and tougher than before. Over time you may gain the agility to dodge future boulders, and if not, at least you’ll remember the pain is temporary.

So what does it feel like to let this invisible current do the hard work? How do you take advantage of it to make life easier? Below are ideas that have worked for me:

-View life as a treasure hunt

Life is littered with precious gems that most people pass over because they don’t recognize them as such. Many of the gems are random nuggets of information that seem insignificant at the time presented, but if we pay closer attention and tuck that info in our pockets, it often becomes critical in a future encounter. Most often the information is timely, showing up anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days before you need it.

An example may look like this: you skim the local news and notice a story about an executive recruiter in your area who competes in triathlons. The article catches your eye because you compete as well, but you’ve never encountered the person. After reading the piece you go about your day, giving little thought to it afterward. The next day you show up at work to discover your job has been eliminated. There are numerous job search activities you must do in this situation, but should you most-positively-definitely-absolutely contact the recruiter you just happened to read about the day before and send them your resume? You bet. The universe may have handed you a gift and that person might be a link to a perfect position for you, one better than your old one.

-Pay attention to signs

Other gems in life’s treasure hunt come in the form of cosmic signposts, or “signs” for short. These are images or words you encounter that often help you make decisions or reinforce recent ones you’ve made. Sometimes they simply provide encouragement during difficult times, serving to validate the path you are on. Once you start to look for them, you’ll see these signs often and come to rely on them. It’s fun to share your signs with like-minded individuals, but use caution with others, those who don’t believe in their existence. You may get soul-sucking lectures on attributing meaning where there is none, that they are just coincidences, which brings us to the next item.

Recognize there is no such thing as a coincidence.

Call it serendipity or providence, but to label anything a coincidence implies there is no reason behind it and that can make us complacent in our treasure hunt. Always strive to identify the connection behind what some call coincidence. I do. Sometimes I find it, sometimes I don’t. But even if I can’t discover the meaning behind a synchronous occurrence, I still view it as a welcome reminder of the exquisite, interwoven nature of a universe that is constantly working on our behalf.

-Reach out immediately to the people who flash into your head at random times

Years ago, friends or acquaintances would pop into my head for no reason. I would always tell myself I needed to call them soon, but I’d usually forget and rarely reach out. Later, after I began to understand there are no coincidences, I realized these flashes occurred for reasons. Now when it happens, I contact those people immediately. I can’t tell you how many times this has headed off a brewing issue with a client, vendor, or friend-in-need. Sometimes the person in need was me. I would call the friend for what seemed like a simple chat and catch-up session, but something in our conversation later became a vital piece of information that became invaluable.

-Trust your intuition

Most of use have this great navigation tool within us called intuition. I like to think of it as an inner compass that points the way. But following this inner compass can be difficult because many of us have been brainwashed to believe logic and intellect trump intuition, especially in decision making. Logic and intellect have their places, but when it comes to our personal journeys and flowing with life, intuition is invaluable. Yet, the quiet voice that whispers what is right for us is often drowned out by the chaos and clutter of our lives. We must remove the noise and interference or at least get away from it for a while for our intuition to operate at full capacity. Learning to listen to that inner voice takes practice, but it’s worth it. Practice it often.

-Heed your emotions

This is a variation on “trust your intuition.” I include it because instincts are often fueled by our emotions and offer much insight into a situation. For years I experienced an unshakable sense of dread every Sunday evening when the last of the weekend’s light began to fade outside. The fading light served as an unwelcome reminder that another work week approached, one I didn’t want to face. The feeling was so strong that my stomach ached every Sunday evening until I finally I realized I had to leave my job and create one I liked better. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

-Choose your company wisely

We hear this a lot, but it is absolute truth. Those you associate with will change who you are, for better or for worse. But those people also carry you places. Life’s unseen current works through them in a major way. The people in your circles guide and mentor you as well as connect you to others who possess vital information for your journey. All the individuals you come in contact with change your life so choose friends and co-workers wisely. The easiest ways to do this is determine who sustains you versus drains you. Maximize your time with the sustainers and minimize time with the drainers. And for those who may say they can’t minimize their time with draining co-workers, don’t believe it. I left a job to escape a few draining co-workers. But a fantastic side effect occurred. All the sustainers at that previous job eventually followed me. Remember, it may take some time, but we all create our own worlds. Ensure yours is filled with people who sustain you.

-Relax and enjoy the ride.

This is so important, but probably the hardest thing for me to do. I do get better at it as I age. Often we are so caught up with getting to our destinations that we forget it’s really about the journey. When you relax and enjoy the ride, you see, hear, and feel important things that not only help you reach your destination in an easier manner, but also make the whole journey more worthwhile. Don’t let stress shut down your senses.

While I’ve written down most of the ideas I use, this list is far from complete. I like to learn how others flow with life’s current. If you have a method that works, please share in the comments so we can all benefit. In the meantime, enjoy the ride.

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