Tag Archives: Bruce Lee

Be Like Water (or an ant)

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
― Bruce Lee
Yoga studio in Estella, Spain
Yoga studio in Estella, Spain
I have been reading a lot about happiness lately.  “How to be Happy”, “The Root of Happiness”, “Get Happy Now!” (Geez, alright, stop yelling at me!) articles have been popping up in my Facebook feed daily.  It’s probably my fault.  When you are an aspiring (but sometimes lazy) Yogi who follows more pages on meditation, philosophy and esoterica than you have friends, it is bound to happen at some point.  I’m a sucker for positive affirmation memes.  And, what’s not to love about Word Porn?
Perfect for those of us with chronic Wanderlust.
Perfect for those of us with chronic Wanderlust.

I came across an article this morning in The New York Times called “A Formula for Happiness” which states that social scientists think up to 48% of our happiness is determined by genetics, while another 40% is related to one time events such as a new job.  So, what’s the last 12%?  Our last little bit of happiness is determined by the four basic values of faith, family, community and work.  Work?  What?  

Yes, apparently work is something that makes  people happy.  But, here’s the kicker, it must be work that is rewarding.  It has to be that something that gets you excited in the morning.  Because, once we have our needs met, more money is not what makes us happy.  It is about having a reason to get out of bed and be productive.  It is about having a community of friends and coworkers and being held accountable in that community.

So, while Bruce Lee told us to, “Be like water”, I propose that we also be like an ant.  Huh?  Stick with me for a second while I relate this to my time in Spain.

While walking the Camino, I noticed that I was passing through different insect territories.  First, in the Pyrenees, there are these horrid little flying beetles that won’t leave you alone if you stop for more than ten seconds.  I learned one lesson from them: keep moving.  Then came large groups of snails around Viana.  Lesson learned?  Tread lightly. 

Finally, the ants.  Wow.  So many lessons learned from the those little guys.  They are up before daybreak each day, making their way across the path in a straight line, working together to take care of business.  What happens if something blocks their path (like a hiking boot or an awesome Merrell)?  They simply go around it.  No problem, man.

The ants are made of that 12% happiness that all of us have control over.  They have a community that holds them responsible. They have what I can only presume is an undying love for rewarding and hard work.  Do they have faith?  Eh, who knows?  But, something is getting them out of their anthill every morning.  They certainly have a sense of self-preservation and an endurance that could run circles around any Camino pilgrim.

So, “Be like water.”  Go with the flow.  But also, be like the ant.  Find the work that gets you excited, find the community that holds you accountable and lastly, have faith that if you do, you will find some happiness.

*The awesome “Ant Trails” doodle above is by Von Holdt http://vonholdt.wordpress.com/