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What’s the Most Important Thing to Know in Making a Decision?

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!

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28 Responses to What’s the Most Important Thing to Know in Making a Decision?

  1. Diana January 28, 2014 at 8:49 am #

    Hi Z….Perfect and Divine timing for your blog to arrive in my inbox today. I needed the simple message of upstream or downstream? No question where I am, when I pause to notice.

    Oops I just discovered me….currently facing upstream, given some shocking news regarding the flow of energy…. you know that green stuff, that THEN I allowed THAT to impact the FREE stuff… my own reservoir of infinite energy.

    FEAR rocks appeared on my upstream journey and it was becoming a bumpy ride, paddling and seeming to go no where. Hmmm…. not realizing, I had gotten turned around, that is until the Internet Angels delivered your timely re-minder. In the middle of a temper tantrum…. splashing about in emotions, spinning, grappling with the temporary disorientation. Ahhh…thanks for helping me to get my moorings/bearings and turn within and turn around!


    • Z Egloff January 28, 2014 at 11:29 am #

      Hi Diana,

      What a wonderful description of the whole upstream/downstream dance. I find that I’m continually having to assess which direction I’m headed. I seem to get better and better at it all the time, but that doesn’t mean I no longer head upstream anymore. How awesome for you that all it took was to read a blog post and there you were, headed downstream again! Kudos to you!!


  2. squirrel January 28, 2014 at 8:54 am #

    up until fairly recently, i was “upstream all the way!” but it has been my experience that, for me, that approach was really about martyrdom. well, martyrdom and ignorance. i thought i was doing it right.

    i much prefer the “go with the flow” approach. sometimes i forget, but then i crash into a rock and remember.

    and toilet paper over the top is the only correct way to do it. 😀

    • Z Egloff January 28, 2014 at 11:27 am #

      Hi Squirrel,

      Oh, another person who understands about the proper ways of TP. Oh joy!

      Martyrdom and Ignorance is quite the combo! Never fun. Or, I guess it’s a “special” kind of fun. Good times!


  3. Fran January 28, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    TP over the top!! Need to practice the downstream thing a little more, though.

    • Z Egloff January 28, 2014 at 11:25 am #

      Hi Fran,

      Over the top all the way!!!!!

      Downstream is fun, I promise! And ultimately more prosperous and productive as well :)


  4. kari January 28, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    OOOh I’m soo happy to read this today! Thank you!

    And honestly TP over/under doesn’t matter to me as
    long as its still there :)

    • Z Egloff January 28, 2014 at 11:24 am #

      Hi Kari!

      You’re welcome!

      You have a GREAT point about the TP. Not that I will budge from my “Over” stance, but I appreciate your perspective! 😉


  5. Sherry January 28, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    A most excellent post, Z. I’m surprised that Karen hasn’t chimed in yet!

    I am a big Abe fan also. Saw “them” a couple of weeks ago in Orlando for the very first time. It was an experience, for sure!

    I am exactly like you with the toilet roll. But, more than that, I also go downstream except for my work. I’ve been in the same company for 19 years. Whew. How did that happen? I’ve wanted out for a very long time. Don’t know what to do about it. I don’t want to jump from the frying pan to the fire, as they say.

    Wish I had the guts you had!

    Thanks, Z!

    • Z Egloff January 29, 2014 at 11:23 am #

      Hi Sherry,

      I know, I was waiting for Karen to chime in as well! :)

      That’s groovy that you got to see Abe live. I’ve gotten to do that twice now, the second time at the Agape Revelations conference in L.A. Wow – that was an amazing experience.

      As for you job, I was just hearing Abe say this morning that it’s about having a positive disc no matter where you are. I was at my job for 13 years, and I really had to work at finding that “better-feeling thought” a lot of the time. But it was worth all the energy I put into it. As Abe says, you can always be happy now, no matter where you are!

      I claim and affirm that you will find the perfect time to go! And that it will feel totally downstream when you do. And that, until then, you enjoy the ride as much as possible. :)


  6. Donna January 28, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    Dear Z,
    Thank you for the “downstream” approach to life. I feel incredibly not so smart thinking upstream was the way it was “supposed” to be done. I felt that when I was doing things in a “downstream” fashion I was being lazy. You are a blessing in my life for your messages that bring hope, laughter and Spirit into my life. Lots of love to you.

    • Z Egloff January 29, 2014 at 11:20 am #

      Hi Donna,

      Letting go of the Upstream paradigm is a big shift. Of course you thought that’s how it was supposed to be! We’re ALL taught that way. I still catch myself hanging on to the Upstream paradigm at times. But what a relief to let it go! Enjoy the ride! :)


  7. Jackie January 28, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

    I, too, have been fighting the stream – trying to get back to something that probably never really was real except in my mind. I have recently decided to ‘take a road-trip’ and leave the ‘security’ of my house and drive across the country and back for a couple of months. I feel so alive and filled with a sense of adventure and it’s been a long time since I felt this way. Once I made the decision, everything fell into place. Definitely flowing downstream. Row, row, row your boat – gently down the steam.

    TP most assuredly over the top!!

    Hugs and blessings

    • Z Egloff January 29, 2014 at 11:14 am #

      Hi Jackie,

      Wow! Sounds like a downstream adventure! I love that you say that once the decision was made, everything fell into place. I’ve had that experience as well, and it’s invariably with downstream activities. Have fun!!

      Over the Top!!!! 😀


  8. Sherry January 28, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

    Awesome post Z,

    Upstream was my old way of doing “everything”, now I wait and see if I am in the flow before jumping in. I am still a novice downstream thinker, but I am practicing.

    As for the TP, I don’t care, but after 38 years together I recently found out that Mike is an over kind of guy, who knew! We are now an over family.


    • Z Egloff January 29, 2014 at 11:13 am #

      Hi Sherry,

      Nice to see you here!

      I’ve been actively working the Up/Downstream metaphor for several years now, and I feel like I learn more and more about it every day. It’s awesome! And my life just keeps getting better and better the more I learn about it.

      And congratulations on your “Over” status. I know you will be blissfully happy with it!

      (Actually, if I think about it, one of the reasons I’m an “over” gal is that the paper is more accessible and easier to grab. Thus more . . . downstream! Just sayin’.)


  9. Marcy January 28, 2014 at 9:49 pm #

    Row, row, row your boat
    Gently down the stream
    Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
    Life is but a dream!

    Thx Abe and ZZ!

    • Z Egloff January 29, 2014 at 11:10 am #

      Hi Marcy,

      Thanks for the tune! I’ll probably have it in my head all day! That song really sums it all up, doesn’t it?! :)


  10. Karen January 29, 2014 at 8:55 am #

    I’ve always loved the upstream/downstream analogy of Abraham, and I think it may be one of their most popular comparisons because it’s so easy to visualize and understand.

    And I love Kari’s perspective on TP. Haha!

    And Sherry’s comment — hello, pal!

    Can’t wait to share this clever post in the Abe Fun group.


    • Z Egloff January 29, 2014 at 11:09 am #

      Hi Karen!

      I agree – the Up/Downstream metaphor is very easy to grock. I think that one of the reasons I like it so much is that it’s a nature metaphor and I can really relate to that. It’s so accessible. Plus I liked the stories they used to tell about Esther and Jerry on the rafting trip. I do like the new clogged pipes analogy as well. But that’s another post! :)


  11. Tomaś January 29, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    Hi Z, Timely reminder on the upstream/downstream thing. Re-inforcer, too! I am a fan of Abe’s & the over. There is an employment gap going on for me right now. I keep finding myself with plenty to do, none if it has been job related.
    (It had been a long time on the job. 10yrs.)
    So, 2 weeks and the numbness is starting to leave…
    I feel that I’m downtown downstream. Then a voice says yes well maybe you’re in fantasy & denial… Hah! Who knows? I sure like thinking, not, not fantasy & denial. Self first for a change, for now. Then choose from a more healed place.
    Glad I caught your blog today! Thanks, Tomaś

    • Z Egloff January 30, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

      Hi Tomaś,

      I hear you about the fantasy and denial piece, and wondering what’s “real.” For me, learning about what’s downstream has been a process. The best way for me to figure it out has been by testing it. Sometimes I think something’s downstream and it turns out it’s not. Sometimes the same thing happens with presumably upstream activities. I like what you say about “Self first for a change.” Yeah! I hear you on that one. And choosing from a more healed place is awesome as well. Then it’s best for you and everyone around you. Amen.

      Stop by again any time!


  12. Wy January 29, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    Amazing how things show up just when they are supposed to. I’ve been grappling with the job thing lately myself. Thanks for helping me think of things from a different angle. Love your blog!

    xo, Wy

    • Z Egloff January 30, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

      Hi Wy,

      Thanks for stopping by. I love hearing about the perfect timing of things. Glad I could be a part of it! :)


  13. Tanya February 6, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    the other thing: going upstream is generally only used in life and death circumstances, just because it IS that difficult.

    so yeah, probably a bad idea to live your life constantly in a state of desperation and struggle :-)

    • Z Egloff February 6, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

      Hi Tanya!

      Yeah, life and death struggle as an everyday event is, um, not fun. To say the least! 😀


  14. Chloe November 9, 2016 at 8:54 pm #

    I always feel like I’m headed downstream when I’m on your blog, Z!

    • Z Egloff November 17, 2016 at 12:24 pm #

      Hi Chloe, Yay! Wheeeeeee! :) XOZ

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