Live Carefree & Go With The Flow In 5 Easy Steps

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"Going with the flow" means adopting a more open and relaxed attitude toward what arises in your everyday life.

It requires letting go of your need to analyze everything and control the outcomes. Many believe that if you embrace this approach, you'll reduce your stress, expose yourself to wonderful unexpected opportunities, and identify novel solutions.

That's why you need to know how to go with the flow.

Now, some people think going with the flow is naively optimistic, rash, and even audacious. They see a zero-sum choice: Be impetuous or responsible.

But in reality, you can let go sometimes. This is not an abnegation of responsibility.

On the contrary, by going with the flow you can become more alert, flexible, conscious of unforeseen opportunities, and make better choices.

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Here are 5 simple steps you can take to learn how to go with the flow.

1. Admit you can't control everything.

Of the suggestions, this is probably the toughest to implement.

It can be hard to acknowledge you can't control everyone and everything all the time. But the belief that you can creates an enormous burden, energy drain, and morale buster.

The truth is, the only person you can control is yourself. If you're like the rest of us, you might think you know what someone else is going to say or do. And, you may assume you know why. But do you really know?

Ask yourself: "Is there a possibility that they won't say or do what I expect?" If they say or do what you expect, ask yourself: "Could their intentions be different than what I assumed?"

The next time you find yourself stacking up assumptions about a person or an event, stop. Ask a few neutral clarifying questions, like:

"Does she really mean that, or am I sure he'll do that?" 
"Do I need more information about this situation?" 
"Is my version the absolute truth?" 

Be mindful that even a slim possibility can occur sometimes.

2. Make yourself present.

Pause and breathe. It's not the breath itself that conveys insight or brilliance. It's the space it creates to let something new in.

Just a second or two can free you to notice more, verify information, and acquire additional details. When you pause, you reduce your reactivity — those habitual or triggered reactions.

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When you consciously take a breath, you turn your attention to the present moment and yourself. You become more present. From this vantage point, you can give yourself time to reflect and choose the best response.

3. Give in sometimes.

Embrace purposeful surrender. This means giving into external requests, demands, or circumstances.

It's purposeful because you know you have a choice and you prefer to say no, but you're willing to say yes, and see how it goes.

In truth, there are times when it's better not to get what you think you want, or not to execute that perfectly calculated plan you crafted based on your razor-sharp judgment.

You must have at least once in your life experienced surprise and delight when you’ve gone against your "better judgment." Indeed, with hindsight, was that plan really based on your better judgment?

Consider this: You meticulously planned a weekend getaway, and you managed to score reservations at all the best restaurants for each night of your visit.

Then, while traveling, your companion requests that the two of you explore an interesting part of town that evening and grab a meal on the spot, without a reservation. You reluctantly give in.

Surprisingly, you find a fabulous restaurant. And right next door there's a bookstore where, quite miraculously, you discover a rare first edition, autographed copy of your favorite author's very first book.

Once home, you recount to numerous friends how fortunate it was that you went with your significant other's judgment, rather than your own.

The moral? It pays to purposely surrender sometimes.

4. Embrace spontaneity as a gift.

To embrace spontaneity means to act on inspirations and internal urges. Other ways to say this are to follow your heart or listen to your gut.

Whereas purposeful surrender comes from somewhere external, i.e., someone else or the environment, embracing spontaneity originates from within.

Spontaneity is another one of those behaviors some people frown upon. But it's not irresponsible to listen to what you hear on the inside.

When you do, you tap into your creative mind and subconscious. You stimulate your sense of play. And, you cultivate and honor your intuition.

The wisdom of your imbodied self can support a healthier, guilt-free work-life balance.

5. Follow the subconscious signs in your life.

This suggestion is probably the most playful and courageous. It's the most controversial, too.

Signs and symbols are everywhere. Your subconscious mind creates meaning from ordinary things and occurrences, transforming them into our own unique signs and symbols.

Your subconscious mind sees patterns and relationships that your analytical mind does not.

When you opt to embrace and act according to your subconscious, you expand how you engage with the world and open yourself up to more possibilities. This requires an ounce of intuition and a pound of surrender.

It's hard for the concrete analytical thinker to do this. You must suspend judgment and rationalization and just give in to it. Whatever comes up is what you take away.

Can you do this? Absolutely!

There's no need to feel overwhelmed by the idea. Put just one of these suggestions into practice.

You don't have to do it all the time, just experiment and see what happens. Do whatever feels right for you, and get in the habit of doing what feels right for you.

Make sure to assess whether your actions paid off. But do give it time.

And remember, some decisions just won't work out whether you go with the flow or not. Allow yourself to make mistakes, and learn from them as you go.

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Patricia Bonnard, Ph.D., ACC is a certified International Coaching Federation (ICF) leadership coach and a certified Martha Beck life coach. For more information, contact her or visit her website.

This article was originally published at Starchaser-Healing Arts. Reprinted with permission from the author.