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How to Be Happier – Go With the Flow

I had my first baby in September. He’s amazing and every day I’m more and more grateful for him. And I hate when he cries. And as we all know, babies cry. A lot.

Soon after my son was born, I found myself suffering when he cried and working hard to get him to stop. One day while he was crying, I realized that if I wanted to enjoy my time with him I needed to not only but accept, but embrace his crying. He was supposed to be crying. This is how things were supposed to be, or they’d be another way. And in that moment, I was able to stop resisting his crying and just be with him.

I still hate to hear my son cry and I do everything I can to make him stop, but I suffer less. Babies cry. This is how life looks when it’s working. I need to accept things as they are and go with the flow. As a Type-A, perfectionist, this is hard for me to do. I want things to be a certain way, aka perfect.

delayedWhen your flight gets delayed, there’s traffic when you’re in a rush, or someone doesn’t give you the information you need to finish a project on time, it’s very easy and natural to get upset and think, “There’s something wrong here.” But perhaps there is nothing wrong. Perhaps this is what happens when life’s working. It’s just another way to look at things. Accept things as they are. Go with the flow.

This isn’t any easy concept to live by all the time. Breakdowns happen. People disappoint. We do dumb stuff that has negative consequences. It’s really easy to get upset and you’re allowed to do so. It’s normal and natural. But getting upset also reduces your happiness and satisfaction. And given how much stuff goes wrong, if we get upset each time, for a long time, we’re going to be unhappy a lot of the time.

Here’s a practice to try: When something frustrating happens, say to yourself, “I guess this is what happens when life’s working.” You might need to say it a few times. Repeating this phrase might make it easy to accept things as they are and go with the flow.

In the past few weeks, my new car got hit and was totaled. The nanny I hired quit the day before I went back to work, but not before getting both me and my son sick. These are really annoying and upsetting things, and I got upset. I also told myself, several times, “This is what happens when life’s working.” It helped. I need to accept things as they are and go with the flow. That said, I also made changes.

I now work hard not to cross streets where there is not a light – how our car got hit. And I’m being more careful and slower in hiring the next nanny. But I’m suffering less.

P.S. Thank you for the many good wishes regarding Gray’s birth. I didn’t tell many people I was pregnant for a long time and was overwhelmed by the positive response. It took me three years and many, many arduous fertility treatments to have Gray. It was hard, expensive, and emotionally draining. Maybe that’s what life looks like when it’s working.


Shari Harley is the founder and President of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the U.S. Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Culture’s training programs at

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34 Responses to “How to Be Happier – Go With the Flow”

  1. Sarah says:

    I love this post Shari! Thank you for sharing your experience so openly– it is good to hear about your experiences and learn from your wisdom.

  2. Shannon says:

    Beautiful advice and something I am working on as a new mom, too! These little ones have a way of reminding us that we are not in control and to sit back and enjoy the ride, which is applicable in all facets of life. Thank you!

    • Shari Harley says:

      You’re so right! I thought I was going to be the one giving the lessons and it turns out I’m the one receiving the lessons. I hope you and your little one have a lovely holiday! Thanks for your support!

  3. Deanne Moore says:

    I’m always thankful to read your posts. They remind me that I’m living and learning from you and others. Additionally, thank you for giving me the tools and courage to successfully manage my own career. I follow your advice and it has been successful. I appreciate you.

    • Shari Harley says:

      Thank you, Deanne! Comments like yours make me so happy and inspired to keep doing what I do! I’m honored to know that I’ve helped you find the power & courage that you had inside of you all along. I appreciate you and am so grateful for your support.

  4. Beth says:

    Fantastic advice, thank you Shari! “I guess this is what happens when life’s working.” I’m going to use that one. A lot!

  5. Adelaida says:

    I really enjoy your blog and being a Type “A” person also, this is something I also need to work on…my daughter is now 11 years old, but I wish I saw this video when she was younger…althought she was a quiet baby….I saw this the other day about this doctor’s techinique, he calls it “the hold” and I just wanted to share with you just in case you want to give it a try…. and congratulations on your new baby try this link: How to stop a baby crying: Doctor reveals simple ‘hold’ trick that calms screaming babies in SECONDS – Mirror Online

    • Shari Harley says:

      It’s really too bad you cannot use this trick on an 11 year old! I’ll have to try it on Gray and let you know how it goes! Here’s to hoping all of us type A personalities can “go with the flow” this holiday season. Thank you so much for your kind words and I look forward to sharing all the new lessons Gray will teach me in life & business!

  6. Chris Ring says:

    One of your best blog postings yet and at a great time when we are busy at work and home. I enjoy your weekly blog, in fact, I recommended to everyone in my LeanIn Circle to sign up to get it this past summer. Keep it up!

    • Shari Harley says:

      Thank you so much, Chris! That means a lot! I must give all of the credit to baby Gray on this one. I’m sure he will inspire many more posts to come! Thank you again for your continued support and I wish you the happiest holiday season yet.

  7. Romita says:

    Heartfelt and relevant. Great post! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Jackie Chan says:


    I’m always looking forward to your blog postings. I find them very interesting and helpful and I sometimes forward them to my circle of friends whom I know can use it too. Also, thanks for sharing your personal moments with us all. Congrats again!

    • Shari Harley says:

      Thank you not only for you lovely comments but also for sharing the blog with others! It’s nice to mix it up and include some personal anecdotes every once in a while. I’m so glad you’re enjoying them! I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and know that I really appreciate your support!

  9. Whitney Churchill says:

    Thank you for being so real. This is a very timely post.
    Happy holidays!

  10. Lorrie hess says:

    I love this idea, Shari, and have been working on a similar perspective for a long time. Mine is about learning. I remind myself that it’s supposed to be hard at times, or awkward, or downright disastrous results because that’s part of learning how to do it well, too. I always like hearing new ways to look at tough situations so we can enjoy life more. Thanks so much for your insight and sharing!

    • Shari Harley says:

      I also like your perspective and absolutely agree with you! Great things never come from comfort zones! We grow the most in hard times, awkward times, and especially downright disastrous times (trust me, I’ve had many of those). I really appreciate you reading my blog and sharing your insights with me. Hopefully Gray will inspire many more thought provoking blog posts to come. Happiest holidays to you!

  11. AnnMarie Estrada says:

    Shari, I always look forward to your posts no matter the topic; but, today’s post really hit home! This past year I went through a major surgery and now am going through a very painful divorce. Life is hard and certainly doesn’t always cooperate with our Type A Plan. You are right, life is a work in progress.

    Congratulations on the birth of your son! He will bring you more joy then you ever thought possible. Enjoy the happy!

    • Shari Harley says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your year, AnnMarie. It’s nice to know we are not alone in our struggles and we can always find strength from one another (us type a’s need to stick together). “Keep your face always toward the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you.” I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and am wishing you a brighter year to come! Thank you for your kind words!

  12. Brenda says:

    Thank you for sharing your insight on real life stuff! I am deeply touched by your story and I love your philosophy. It reminds me of the poem, Advice from a River. Go with the flow, go around obstacles, slow down and meander, be thoughtful of those down stream, the beauty is in the journey.

    • Shari Harley says:

      Hi Brenda! Thank you for sharing that poem with me, I hadn’t seen it before. Looks like something I need to post above my desk! I’m so happy to hear that this week’s blog spoke to you. Going with the flow is often easier said than done. I really appreciate your support and hope I can continue to write posts that will inspire.

  13. Terryln says:

    Thanks so much for sharing….this really blessed me this morning.

  14. Meghank says:

    Shari – Thanks so much for this blog post! I read it yesterday at lunchtime, and about an hour later went outside and saw that my car (which was parked on the street) was involved in an accident (I am pretty sure that it is totaled). I felt like I handled the whole situation better because I read this blog post earlier in the day. Best of luck with motherhood!

    • Shari Harley says:

      Oh no! I’m so sorry about your car! Handling a car accident with grace is nearly impossible to do, so you should be very proud of yourself! I’m honored to think my blog post helped, even in the tiniest of ways. I hope you’re back on the road in something shiny and fast! Happy Holidays to you!

  15. Jaime says:

    I truly appreciate the perspective on changing my thought process on “life happening”. I would get annoyed at all the things you described but day by day I’m letting go and allowing people to be them but I make the modifications on how I choose to deal with those disappointments. Again, thank you! Congratulations on the angel in your life, children are precious and priceless!

    • Shari Harley says:

      Thank you so much for your comment, Jaime! It’s amazing how just a tiny shift in mindset can turn your whole day around. “We cannot control the wind, but we can direct the sail.” I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and I really appreciate you tuning into my Monday musings.

  16. Lisa Todd says:

    Thank you for your honest and heartfelt post. It is so hard to go with flow and not get caught up in the frustration of the moment. I will start telling myself that this is what happens when life is working! Congratulations on your wonderful bundle of joy. Treasure every moment- even the crying- because it will be over before you know it.

    • Shari Harley says:

      I hope it’s been working for you! I know I’ve repeated it to myself at least a few times this week! Thank you so much for you kind words and support. I promise to do my best to treasure every moment. Even the crying!

  17. Cheryl says:

    Shari, thanks at a time of year when projects come to an end, performance reviews need to be completed, and the Xmas holiday quickly approaching, this helps ALOT! Enjoy every moment with your little one, take in all those moments, time goes too fast.

    • Shari Harley says:

      The end of the year is always nuts, isn’t it? You really just have to sit back and smile through performance reviews and crazy project deadlines to keep yourself from crying. Thank you so much for your comment and your well wishes! I really appreciate your support.

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