Row, Row, Row your Boat, Gently Down the Stream
Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Life is but a Dream
Remember the round, “Row, Row, Row your Boat?” Of course you do. It is a part of our childhood and culture. Not only is this traditional Scottish round a song, but it is a guideline to navigate through the seas of life as well. So loosen your moorings and set sail for new shores.
First of all we have to row. We can’t sit there expecting life to just happen to us. We were created to be productive. When God created Adam, the first thing he did was put Adam to work.
“The happy people,” says the philosopher Galen, “are those who are producing something.”
While sitting on a tropical island day after day watching the tide ebb and flow may seem like paradise, after just a few days, I’d want to start on a project. We have this inherent need to contribute to life. Our unique contribution gives us meaning. When we are just takers out of life instead of givers, we clog the natural flow of life.
And Row, and Row, and Row
But our flow does get clogged. That is why we have to keep our determination and keep rowing. Possible solutions to maintaining enthusiasm could be writing down your goals. By doing so, we fan the flame inside of us and ignite our passions once again. In the New Testament book of Timothy Chapter 2, verse 6 it says to stir up the gift inside of us. Enthusiasm literally means to have God inside of us. When enthused, we garner the strength to continue and eventually persistence does pay off.
Perhaps you can’t see the end result of your efforts. It is easy to become enveloped in the day-to-day activities of life, that we are unable to see the large picture. Create a visual guide by drawing a picture or cutting pictures out of magazines and pasting it to a poster board. Creative visualization helps us picture our dreams which ushers in their fruition. This will give you a visual guide of what it is you want to attain. You are now able to see the big picture and stay motivated.
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 resource department’s job to hold your hand and show you how to get ahead.” In other words, you are responsible for making your profession fun and exciting. You are also responsible for creating an enjoyable life.”
This principle means I am responsible for my own boat. No one else can navigate my boat for me. Nor do need to navigate anyone else’s boat. Sometimes we get so focused on someone else’s boat, we are unable to see the improvements we need to make on our own boats.
Gently Down the Stream
Are you a “go with the flow” type of person? Or do interruptions and awry plans squeeze you like a toothpaste tube? People who always feel the need to be in control lack trust in a higher power. The more I began to trust God, the more I realized that my life is unfolding exactly as it should.
To quote the philosopher Emmanuel, “As your 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.”
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, then the events will fall into place, and I need to accept the results. They may not be the results you want, but trust that the results are as they ought to be. That is another way of going gently down the stream.
“But it’s going down the drain, not the stream.” We think. We have expectations. Unfortunately, many of the circumstances surrounding our expectations are out of our control and the results are not what we wanted. Then, we are unhappy. But haven’t we caused our own unhappiness by fighting the stream? Living upon a basis of unsatisfied demands, we were 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, when life doesn’t work out the way we want? When a negative message comes into the mind, instead of dwelling on it, turn your attention quickly to something that gives you pleasure or someone you can help. A flower, a child or a hero you admire are suggestions. This practice takes training. Just like the paths of rain are impinged upon the sands, our thought patterns are inculcated into our psyche. But after time, we can change our conscious thoughts, our subconscious thoughts will change over time. Eventually, we will find we have a better outlook on life.
If you are surrounded by negative people, there is nothing wrong with asking them to keep their opinions to themselves unless they can say something constructive or just stay away from them. If you can’t stay away, cut down on your exposure to them. It is okay to set boundaries.
Making a gratitude list is another way of maintaining happiness. When we realize what we have and what we have accomplished, we can make up our minds to be happy.
Maintain balance in your life. Whatever you enjoy doing, do it more and do it often. Joseph Campbell, the writer of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, tells us to “follow your bliss. Find where it is and don’t be afraid to follow it.”
Another maxim states that trouble shared is trouble halved. Another way to maintain a positive attitude is to garner a support team. Some people just show up in your life. Other relationships we have to build. Seek out the company and advice of those whom you respect and who worked diligently to get where they are at. However, be on the lookout for envy. Don’t compare yourself to them. Learn from them. From experience, I know it takes courage to approach another person. Usually, the object of our respect is flattered and is willing to help.
Additionally, develop a “dream team.” A dream team is a group of likeminded individuals who have goals and are making efforts to reach them. Be willing to be accountable, honest and of service in this team. The rewards of getting constructive feedback and encouragement are hundredfold.
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. Our Creator put that dream in us so we would follow it and benefit mankind.
“But I have bills…I have a family…What would my friends think?…I’ve already invested twenty years in this job I don’t like…I won’t make as much money as I do now.” Sound familiar? We all have bills to pay. I had to work full-time to support myself before my writing career finally took off, and now I am able to support myself writing. You can pursue your dream part-time at first. Even if you don’t make a living at it, you will have contributed a part of yourself to the universe.
As far as what others would think, usually our critics do not want us to make it because it upsets their own comfort zones. Face it: when someone makes it, whatever “it” is, don’t you feel a pang inside that says, “I could be doing something better with my life.” Please don’t shoot the messenger, but we all could be doing something better with our lives. Life is but a dream that we are constantly reaching for. As we flow through life, there will be bumpy rides and smooth sailing. However, we can enjoy the view, navigate our boats and reach new shores. Happy rowing.