Learning to Accept, Adjust, and Adapt.
“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, actor, film director, martial artist, philosopher, and founder of Jeet Kune Do.
Bruce Lee was a phenomenally talented guy who influenced many people throughout his short lifetime.
Among his many contributions that stand out, “be like water” is perhaps his most famous philosophy that has managed to change millions of lives for the better.
And part of what makes this quote so amazing is that we can all embody it and embrace it in our own lives in order to become more productive, successful, and balanced individuals.
In order to truly understand the meaning behind it, let’s break it down into some of the most important characteristics of water:
It is fluid. If you spill water, it will spread wherever it can and make its way into every crack, every crevice, finding a way into everything it can. If you are fluid, you don’t overthink, overanalyze, or wait for the ‘opportune moment’ that is never going to come. You simply move forward with the knowledge that you are able to handle whatever you come up against.
It is adaptable. Water changes depending on the scenario it is placed in. It adjusts to its challenges, as opposed to fighting them. Being adaptable is not to be confused with being a conformist. No matter the situation, the original components of the water remain the same. Only the arrangement of its particles changes. If you are adaptable, you don’t fear uncertainty. You find ways to make the most of whatever is thrown at you.
It is gentle, yet powerful. Water is gentle, yet it has the ability to be overwhelmingly powerful. Those who embody such qualities display kindness to those around them yet can show strength when it is required.
So when life doesn’t go the way you want it to — the absolute audacity of it — how do you react?
Do you strike out and try to fight against it?
Do you give up and walk away?
Or do you accept it, find a way to maneuver around whatever it is that’s blocking you, and move on?