BY AMITAV BANERJI
The start of the year always has a way of filling me with unbridled optimism about my life and the experiences I will encounter. However, this optimism soon leaves me as the year goes on and I find myself yearning for its return. Building this optimism during the year seems like a daunting task so I tried to find a way to sustain it. I came across a book that talked about the philosophy of water and how water teaches us to find fulfillment and joy in our daily lives.
It taught me three things about how I can be like water. The first thing it taught me is,
When water flows in a river it always stays low. It does not draw any attention to itself. It helps other plants grow, keeps animals alive and yet it does not need any recognition. It is humble and without water’s humble contribution life as we know it would not exist. It taught me that it’s perfectly ok to say, ‘I don’t know and I need help.’ It taught me that it is more fulfilling to help my fellow man grow and move forward rather than just helping myself. This helped me create more rich and fulfilling connections with the people around me and it made the world a more genuine and magical place to live in. All streams eventually flow to the ocean. Humility gives water its power and it gave me the power to transform my world.
When water flows towards a rock, it just flows around it. It flows around it because water’s goal is to move forward in harmony. I realized that my focus was on how much work I had or the things that worried me which cause my drop in optimism and energy. I needed to shift my focus to creating harmony in my environment. Much like water I started to find solutions to my problems without force or conflict. Working in harmony with my environment helped me get more work done than ever before and I started to enjoy my workload. Now I ask myself before every action, “Will this action bring me and my environment greater harmony.”
Tao Te ching says, “Nature does not rush, yet everything is accomplished.” Tao Te Ching uses this sentence to describe the power of harmony.
Water’s ability to adapt and be flexible makes it open to change. In a world where the only constant is change, I found myself stuck when I would make choices that expected me to be rigid and inflexible. I believe that this openness to change comes when humility and harmony work together. When I started to accept my misgivings and shifted my focus to creating an enriching environment, for myself and the people around me, I found myself being more open to change. This also allowed me to do things I was afraid to do because I gained confidence in my ability to adapt to an environment
The next time you feel anxious, stressed or unfulfilled, just remember the principles of H2O (Humility, Harmony and Openness) and ask yourself,
“What would water do?”
(Originally published September 27, 2019)