Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Gently down the Stream
Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily
Life is But a Dream
We all remember the song. It is part of our childhood and our psyches. But it isn’t just a song, it is a way of life meant to guide us through the waters of life.
The first word is row. We have to row. We cannot sit there expecting life to hand us what we want. We were created to be productive. If we look at the biblical account, God created man and then put him to work.
“The happy people,” said the philosopher Galen, “ are those producing something.”
While sitting on a beach watching and listening to the ebb and flow of life sounds like paradise, after a couple days I would want to get started on a project. We have this inherent need to contribute to life and the unique contribution gives us meaning. When we are takers and not givers in life, we stop the flow. We need to maintain a balance of giving and receiving-that is our ebb and flow.
Row, Row, Row
However, maintaining enthusiasm and motivation may be an obstacle. That is why we have to find ways to motivate ourselves so we keep rowing, and rowing, and rowing. Possible solutions to maintaining enthusiasm could be writing down our goals. This solidifies our goals and ignites the flame of enthusiasm in us. In the New Testament book of Timothy, Chapter 2, Verse 6, it says “to stir up the flame gift inside of us.”
Perhaps you cannot see the end result of your efforts. Because life is so daily, we often get caught up in daily routines, unable to see the larger picture. This is where we must create our larger picture. Just like goals written down help express what we want, poster boards with visuals give us a picture of what we want so we can visualize it and make it a reality.
Simon Bailey, speaker and writer of the Imagination Institute in Orlando, Florida, said in an article entitled, Rules of Engagement that “You are responsible for creating your own career path. It is not the Human Resources department’s job to hold your hand and show you how to get ahead.” You are responsible for making your life enjoyable.
This principle also means that we are responsible for our own boats. No one else can navigate our boats for us nor do we navigate someone else’s. Sometimes we get so focused on someone else’s boat that we do not see the improvements we need to make on our own. This leads to envy and pride which do us no good. Steer clear of those deadly sins by realizing each person is only responsible for their own boat and will report to his or her Creator individually.
Gently Down the Stream
Are you a go with the flow type or do interruptions and awry plans squeeze you like a toothpaste tube? People who cannot be flexible feel the need to be in control and lack trust in a higher power. The stream has been there way before your boat came into existence. It knows where it is going and longs to bring you your hearts’ desires. Yet we lack trust in this “higher power” or this peaceful path.
“As you faith is strengthened, you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.” Said the philosopher Emmanuel.
Another lesson I have learned is to just do the footwork and let the results happen. If I have done all that is within my power to do, I have to let it go.
“But it’s going down the drain not the stream!” you may say to yourself. We have expectations and unfortunately, many circumstances are out of our control. This is where we practice acceptance of what really is. We are unhappy because we didn’t get what we want, but don’t we cause our own unhappiness by holding on to those expectations? Living on the basis of unsatisfied demands, we are in a state of continual disturbance. No peace was to be had unless we could find a means of reducing these demands. Acceptance and working with what we have is a good way to reduce those demands.
Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily
How does a person maintain a positive attitude when our minds are inundated with negative and pessimistic messages and when life hands us disappointments? Instead of dwelling on the negative message, acknowledge it, but then turn your attention to something pleasurable or to someone you can help. What has helped me is to memorize positive quotations, verses of scripture and to start hanging around positive, motivated people. Also, I have turned off the nightly news. I don’t need to go to bed with that stuff in my mind. This practice takes training. Just like the paths of rain are impinged upon the sands, our thought patterns and the stories we tell ourselves are inculcated into our psyches. When we help another person, when we take a risk, when we try something new, even if it is taking another route to work, we are changing our conscious thoughts which will eventually reach our subconscious over time. Eventually, we find we have a better outlook on life.
Making a gratitude list and expecting something good today is another way to maintain happiness. When we realize what we do have and what we have accomplished, our self-esteem rises and we feel we can rise to the occasion.
Make time to do what you love. Follow your bliss, as Joseph Campbell said.
Get a friend. Trouble shared is trouble halved. Additionally, garner a support team, a group of trusted friends whose advice you respect and can provide encouragement. This can be a dream team, a support group or just a group of trusted individuals who can offer you perspective.
Life is But a Dream
“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”
Admit it, you have a dream. It could be one from childhood or one you have recently discovered. Our Creator put that dream inside of us so we would follow it and benefit humanity. We have an obligation to use our talents, gifts and resources to benefit others.
“But I have bills…I have a family…What would my friends think?... I have already invested twenty years in this job I don’t like…I won’t make as much money as I do now.”
Oh, get over it! We all have bills to pay. I had to work full-time before my writing career took off, but am now able to support myself doing what I love. Even if I didn’t make a living at it, I still would have contributed to others and have found some meaning.
As far as what others would think, we spend way too much time and energy caring what others think about us rather than thinking about what we think about us. We compromise our integrity to be liked, make money or because we fear rejection. Or it could be that we are afraid of shining because we don’t want others to criticize us because their comfort zones are threatened. Face it: whenever someone makes it, whatever “it” is, we feel a pang inside that says we could be doing better. Please don’t shoot the messenger, but we could be doing better. Life is but a dream that we are constantly reaching for. If it were not, we would have no reason to go on.
So keep rowing, navigate your boat, stay merry and dream.
Read more articles by Regina Russell or search for articles on the same topic or others.