Why do we say "Go With the Flow"?

Well-Known Expressions

Go With the Flow

Meaning:

To do what other people are doing, or agree with the opinion of the majority, because it is the easiest thing to do

Background:

While the expression "go with the flow" is thought to have originated in the 1960s, some say that 2nd century Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus expressed the sentiment when he wrote:

"Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away."

Although both the modern phrase and Marcus Aurelius refer to the passing of events in the terms of water, it's questionable whether the concept of following the crowd by going with the flow is expressing the same sentiment as Marcus Aurelius, who, it would appear, is saying something a little deeper - that it is impossible to cling on to the way things are because change is relentless.

Marcus Aurelius made a number of other profound observations in his writing:

  • That we are responsible for our own experience of life
    "Such as are your habitual thoughts; such also will be the character of your mind; for the soul is dyed by the color of your thoughts."

  • The importance of making the most of our life
    "It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live."

  • To be grateful
    "When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love."

  • To not be complacent about, or get overly attached to, material things
    "Receive wealth or prosperity without arrogance; and be ready to let it go."

  • To accept your life
    "Everything is unfolding as it must, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so."

Alphabetical list of expressions

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