I have a term that I use in my own personal life that acts as a sort of gauge of my current emotional status and I teach it to my yoga classes, private students, and coaching clients; it is “in the flow”. You may have heard it before. I didn’t invent the concept, although I do think I may have tweaked it a bit to give it my own personal Val-twist. “In the flow” or “in flow” (I use them interchangeably) is something that I’m sure you have experienced. It’s those days when everything just seems to go easily. You wake up on the right side of the bed feeling surprisingly well rested. You arrive ontime for work or school (or whatever it is you are doing). Your favorite menu item is the daily special at your usual lunch spot, you get a phone call with unexpected good news, the radio station is playing all of your favorite songs, each and every appointment of the day seems to prepare you for what’s next on the agenda as if your schedule had been planned by your guardian angel and everything just seems to be going right! It is so very lovely when we have those days and we find it quite easy to allow our energy to elevate to vibrations of gratitude, love, joy, and happiness. In fact, it is almost impossible not to live in that state of consciousness when everything is going so well. I’ve committed myself to being a student and teacher of mindful living to cultivate the tools and practices of getting into that blissful state as often as possible but, let’s face it, every day doesn’t go quite so easy and every day doesn’t offer us ‘flow’ right out of the gates.
Things happen beyond our control sometimes, knocks us off kilter, and causes us to admit that our ‘flow’ has ‘flown’ out the window along with our gratitude, love, joy and happiness.
The good news is, however, that when life happens to throw us a curve ball we don’t have to get stuck in the “why me?” Or the “life sucks”. We have the ability to take a moment, let the circumstances set in, feel the disappointment and then choose to see things differently. I learned a little prayer from one of my gurus Gabrielle Bernstein and I say it aloud when the course of the day happens to put me in a funk: “I am willing to see this differently. I am willing to see this with love.” When we realize that we can’t control certain aspects of life but we CAN control how we frame our thoughts, we can reach that level of consciousness that allows us to experience peace, love, and joy, putting us right back on track to our state of flow no matter what is happening externally. In fact, the NUMBER ONE factor of your level of experiential happiness is your thoughts! And your thoughts are your choice.
As I’m writing this I am looking back at my day today. I definitely had some things that didn’t look too happy from the outside. I had a tire blow out on the way home from church, which just so happened to be on the way to a meeting that I was dreading because of certain people involved.
As I stood on the side of the road looking at the very obliterated tire and looking at the time, I had two options: I could get angry, curse the sky, complain about the tire, the road, the time, the meeting, the people at the meeting, the fact that we didn’t have the appropriate tools to change the tire, etc… OR I could re-frame my thoughts and quickly come back around to flow.
“I am willing to see this differently. I am willing to see this with love”. Once I recited the prayer, I picked up my phone and sent a text message explaining what had happened and within minutes one person was there to pick me up to take me to the meeting while another was on the way to change the tire for me. By taking a few breaths, saying my prayer aloud, and choosing to re-frame my thoughts, I returned to flow and believe it or not things just worked out!
Some people feel like to have a life filled with happiness they must never succumb to the darker sides of our emotional personalities like fear, anger, judgment or resentment.
The truth is we all will inevitably succumb to those emotions because it’s simply a part of being human. The trick to being happy, the trick to seeking out your joy and bliss, the trick to mindful living is not to get stuck in the negative. The trick is to get yourself back to flow more and more quickly every time there is a wrench in the plan. Get back into the flow more quickly this time than you did the last time. Get back to your flow even more quickly the next time, and the next.
This is the progress we should strive for. This is the quest for happiness that I am on: true and authentic peace, gratitude and joy. It’s not always rainbows and unicorns, of course, but I do have the power to choose to rise above the circumstance and frame my thoughts in a way that brings me back to my flow, because in my flow is my favorite place to be.