Water is one of the five magical elements that makes life possible on planet earth. And even though water holds such immense powers, it is perhaps the simplest of all elements.
Just look at its properties – formless, shapeless, colorless, odourless, tasteless, transparent, supple and fluid. Can anything get any more simpler than that? Probably not.
The more you study water, the more it fascinates you. For instance, if you hold water in your hands, it will slip right through your fingers, yet there are huge ships that effortlessly float on it. Also, water comes across as soft and yielding and yet it can bring down massive structures. So on and so forth. Water never fails to fascinate you.
If you study the nature of water closely, you will realize that there are many lessons you can learn from it. The following are 12 such important life lessons you can learn from water.
1. Calmness brings clarity
“Your mind is like this water my friend, when it is agitated it becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle, the answer becomes clear.” – Bil keane
As you would have noticed, when water becomes still, all suspended particles slowly settle down, making the water look clear. On the other hand, when water is stirred, the particles mix back with the water making it unclear.
The same is the case with your mind. When you are angry, restless or agitated, your mind gets clouded with too many thoughts leading to confusion and lack of clarity.
Any action you take with this state of mind is bound to be erroneous. But if you allow yourself to calm down, the thoughts settle and clarity ensues.
This is because, your mind can work at its highest capacity only when it is calm and composed. When your mind is agitated, the same stale thoughts are recycled over and over again, clogging your mind and not allowing fresh thoughts to arise.
So whenever you feel confused or frustrated, the first thing you need to do is stop thinking and relax. In other words, you need to stop giving attention to your thoughts and divert your attention to something neutral, like your breathing. Take a few deep breaths and let your attention rest on your breathing. A few seconds of doing this is enough to calm your mind. And as your mind becomes calmer, it starts to attract real solutions.
2. You always have a choice to focus on the solution
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
There are certain aspects of life that are beyond your control and some aspects that are in your control.
When you find yourself in uncharted territories, it is important to focus your energy on things you can control, rather than things you cannot control. In other words, focus on the solutions rather than focusing on the problem.
The waves are huge and powerful. They cannot be controlled no matter how hard you try. But you can learn to surf them.
In surfing them, you use the power of the waves to propel you forward. So the waves that looked like a menace in the beginning, become your greatest asset.
3. Sometimes you need to relax and let go
“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there someday.” – A. A. Milne
When you look at a stream or a river, you realize that rivers don’t hurry. They are not eager to reach the destination. They just flow along, rejoicing the journey.
In life, we have no destination either. There is nowhere to reach. The destinations we make are purely in our minds.
Life is a journey and it exists only in the present moment. So every now and then, we need to get out of our minds and our man made goals and simply rest in our being.
Live in the moment, relax, let go and get into the flow of things. Feel gratitude and find joy in the little things in life.
4. You can be slow as long as you do not stop
“A river cuts through rock not because of its power but because of its persistence.” – Jim Watkins
Because it is persistent in its efforts, water, which comes across as soft and supple, is able to cut through the strongest of rocks, smoothing their hard surfaces. Water does not apply force, and yet it is able to accomplish this mammoth task because it is persistent.
This goes to show that the way to success is not perfection, but persistence, for at the end of the day, it is the slow and steady that win the race.
Your goals might overwhelm you but if you split them into smaller goals and achieve them consistently over a period of time, you are bound to succeed.
5. Being flexible is the basis of growth
“As the water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it, so a wise man adapts himself to circumstances.” – Confucius
Water has no shape or form. It molds itself to the vessel that contains it and this is what gives water its immense power. If water were rigid, it would completely lose its usefulness.
The very nature of life is change, and hence no amount of resistance can stop the change that is coming. Therefore it is prudent that, just like water, we are fluid or flexible enough to adapt to change. Only when we adapt to the change can be begin to use the change to our advantage.
Being flexible does not mean being weak or submissive. It just means being open. It involves letting go of resistance, accepting the situation, understanding the situation and accumulating new knowledge to deal with the situation.
By being rigid, you allow the ideas in your mind to control you. By being fluid, you become free from these ideas and become open to learning and growing. So being adaptable is also the basis of growth.
6. Your true nature is beyond your egoic identity
“You are not a drop in the ocean, you are the entire ocean in a drop.” – Rumi
Every single property of the ocean is present in every drop of the ocean.
Therefore, taking a drop out of the ocean is like carrying a piece of ocean with you. The drop does not stop being the ocean because it is separate from the ocean.
In a similar way, the consciousness that created the universe is what is present within you as well. It is an intricate part of you. Even though you appear as a separate entity, every single aspect of that consciousness is within you and that is your true nature.
7. Patience is a powerful virtue
“Never give up, for that is just the place and time the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe
The tide does not last forever but it has a time and place. It comes at the right time and goes at the right time. And this is true for everything in life.
Therefore, one of the best virtues you can develop is that of patience. Good things always come to those who have the courage to wait.
8. Humility brings true freedom
“All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. Humility gives it its power.” – Tao Te Ching, Chapter 66
The sea is vast but it still lays low (at a lower altitude). Therefore, all the little streams and rivers automatically flow into it making it bigger and stronger. Such is the power of humility.
No matter how successful you become, it is important that you always stay humble. When you are humble, you attract positive energy into your life. You attract the right people and right situations into your life, lifting you further up.
Being humble doesn’t mean you are weak. It just means that you are free from lower level emotions like pride and jealousy.
It means, you are not a slave to your ego. And therefore, you no longer have a need to impress others or seek external validation. You are content within yourself. And that is what true freedom is.
9. The dimension of stillness is within you
“The ocean looks turbulent on the surface, but is still within.” – Anon
The surface of the ocean is calm at times and turbulent at other times. But irrespective of what happens on the surface, deep within the ocean, there is a vast body of water that is perfectly calm and still. The turbulence on the surface does not affect the stillness within.
This same dimension of stillness exists within you too. And irrespective of what happens on the outside, you can always take refuge in this space of stillness within.
You can access this state whenever you want simply by being present with yourself and letting go of the thoughts in your mind. In other words, by removing attention from the thoughts and resultant emotions.
This state of stillness is where all intelligence springs forth. This is a state of deep calm and peace where all healing takes place. This is the state through which you can connect with the consciousness or your true nature.
10. Always be a source of positivity
“Give”, said the little stream, As it hurried down the hill. “I’m small, I know, but wherever I go, The fields grow greener still.” – Frances J. Crosby
The stream does not make any effort to make anyone happy. But it’s very presence makes the grass grow greener, the flowers blossom and the birds chirp with joy.
Just like the little stream, you can be a source of joy, happiness and positive energy, wherever you go without making any effort whatsoever.
You can do this by getting in touch with yourself, by understanding yourself, valuing yourself, forgiving yourself and giving yourself much needed love.
When you love yourself, it shows. It radiates out of your being and touches everyone who associates with you.
11. Slow and steady wins the race
“Little drops of water make the mighty ocean.” – Lao Tzu
Every little drop counts and goes toward making the ocean. The lesson you can learn here is that small steps taken consistently over a period of time have the potential to achieve mammoth targets.
It’s easy to get discouraged looking at a huge target in front of you. But once you shift your focus to the present moment and think of what you can do in this moment toward achieving your goal, things no longer seem daunting and you start making great progress.
12. Being flexible does not mean you are meek
“Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water, yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it.” – Tao Te Ching
Being soft, generous, humble and understanding does not mean you are week. In-fact, it’s the other way round. It takes infinite amount of power and courage to be generous, adaptable and understanding. To be able to forgive, let go and move on. Just like water, that looks so soft and flexible but yet is extremely powerful.
Also Read: 27 Life Lessons You Can Learn From Nature.
These are just some of the lessons you can gather by looking at the nature of water. What does water mean to you and how does it inspire you?