photo: Jaysin Trevino on flickr

photo: Jaysin Trevino on flickr

What was your last Really Important Decision?

Did you decide to leave a job? A relationship? A town or city?

Or maybe you decided something More Important Than That.

Like choosing to make the toilet paper roll go over ­­­instead of under. (I’m an over person. Don’t even get me started on why it’s so much better.)

photo: Diana House on flickr

photo: Diana House on flickr

Toilet paper aside, when it comes to making big decisions, one of my favorite guides is the work of Abraham-Hicks.

Many of you know I’m a big fan of Abe. A few years ago, they busted out an awesome metaphor for personal and spiritual growth. Though they rarely use it these days, it’s still one of my favorite ways to tell if I’m on the right track.

It’s the metaphor of Upstream and Downstream.

photo: Moyan Brenn on flickr

photo: Moyan Brenn on flickr

Abe teaches us that the Life Force is like a river. It flows through us and around us. There’s nothing we have to do about it. It just is. Like our breathing.

The best way to approach this whole life-on-earth gig is to go with the flow. Yes, that’s an overused saying that brings to mind earth shoes and puka-shell necklaces, but hear me out.

Most of us have been programmed to think that life is supposed to be hard. We’re supposed to struggle. Anything worth having or achieving is going to take effort.

It makes me tired just thinking about it.

photo: Mike Poresky on flickr

photo: Mike Poresky on flickr

This struggle-and-strife approach to life is called Upstream. You’re pushing against the river. Yes, it takes way more effort, but you get to feel noble while doing it.

There’s only one tiny problem.

Going upstream is pretty much the worst way to do anything. Not only does it take a ton of effort, you’re pretty much never happy when you arrive at wherever you’re going.

Not to mention exhausted.

Instead, Abe suggests, why not try the Downstream approach?! It’s fun! It’s easy! And everything you really want is downstream!!

photo: Dawn Ellner on flickr

photo: Dawn Ellner on flickr

There’s only one other tiny problem.

The problem is not with the Downstream approach. It’s with our resistance to the Downstream approach.

It seems lazy. Irresponsible. What will people say?

Let me clarify: Living life downstream doesn’t mean sitting on your caboose all day and watching reality TV shows.

Living Downstream is about following what’s most alive in you. Living in passion and possibility.

photo: Zachary Collier on flickr

photo: Zachary Collier on flickr

Many years ago, I had a job I liked. It wasn’t my ultimate-ideal-dream-job, but I didn’t know what my ultimate-ideal-dream-job would look like then, so it was close enough.

Then I discovered writing.

Suddenly, I had a passion for something. Suddenly, there was something I couldn’t wait to do every day.

And suddenly, my used-to-be-decent job felt boring and lifeless.

What’s a Goofball to do?

I hadn’t yet been introduced to the concepts of Upstream and Downstream, but I knew enough about following my intuitive guidance to know that it didn’t feel right to quit my day job.

Yes, my day job felt Upstream. But it would have been more Upstream to walk away from the income and stability it was providing at the time.

Abe counsels us that sometimes neither choice feels Downstream. In that case, we choose the more Downstream direction.

So I stayed at my day job, waiting until it was the right time to leave. In the meantime, I pursued Downstream activities.

Like writing. And music. And finding a spiritual community where I felt at home and could contribute my time and talents.

photo: Will Bakx

photo: Will Bakx

And then, one day, I realized it was time to leave my job.

In spite of the fact that I had been waiting to leave for years, I was surprised and scared that it was finally time to go. What would happen to me? Would I really be okay?

Even though I was scared, the stream was calling. And leaving the job became more Downstream than staying.

At this point, I had learned about Abe and was employing the Upstream/Downstream metaphor in my daily life. As it turned out, leaving my day job was the first in a series of decisions to move in an increasingly Downstream direction.

Because here’s the thing about the Upstream/Downstream game:

Once you start making Downstream choices, everything that’s still Upstream starts to stand out. And it gets harder and harder to go Upstream.

I mean, it already is hard to go Upstream, but it gets harder and harder to justify it.

I’ve been playing the Upstream/Downstream game for years now, and I’m still learning more every day about the nuances of what’s Up and what’s Down.

Lately, I’ve been marveling at a wonderful and magical outcome of being willing to say Yes to Downstream activity.

When I say Yes to Downstream, I let go of striving. When I let go of striving, I let the Life Force take over. When the Life Force takes over, I have so much help and support.

All I have to do is decide, in any moment, what feels like the most Downstream thing to do. Once I make that decision, the Life Force kicks in, supporting whatever I’m doing.

photo: Jaramey Jannene on flickr

photo: Jaramey Jannene on flickr

Living a Downstream existence opens up an abundance of energy and ideas and resources. It’s powerful. It’s magical. It’s Divine.

If all of this sounds way too weird and airy-fairy and puka-shell-ish, feel free to ignore everything I’m saying. Perhaps ignoring me is what’s most – I have to say it – Downstream for you.

For the rest of you, give it a try!

Try noticing, in any decision that comes before you, which one feels both freer and more alive. If neither option has these qualities, pick the one that feels more free and more alive. You can always choose again. And again.

Each of us has our own Upstream/Downstream meter. Only we can decide what feels best.

Except when it comes to the toilet paper role. In that case, over is always the best choice.

photo: Patrick Denker on flickr

photo: Patrick Denker on flickr

What’s your experience with Upstream/Downstream decision making? Share your comments below!

(I currently respond to all comments on this blog. If for some reason your comment does not appear on the blog, it has been trapped in my gigantic spam folder. Please try again!)

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