Which way are you turning it?

Which way are you turning it? (Photo: Kevin Dooley)

Showers seem to be a place where I do a lot of my thinking and I often have many realizations under falling water – it’s totally zen for me. What’s not often though, is the shower itself that’s the source of wisdom – usually it’s just the insane amount of time I’m just letting the water flow over me. Today was different, as the simple every-day water faucet knobs of my shower lead me to little new perspective on classic wisdom.

There’s thousands of variations of shower knobs out there, and I’m sure you’ve encountered a few that totally baffled you. You know, you go to a friend’s house in some crazy loft and they have to give you an entire course on how to work the damned thing. It’s like some sort of Rube Goldberg Machine.

Anyways, let’s stick with the classic double-knober that let’s you control both the hot and cold water individually. With this setup, there can be unlimited variations of the two that get you the same temperature, some being more energy efficient than others (especially if you take long ones).

Well, I do tend to take lengthy showers, as it’s almost a meditation for me, and today was no exception. So when the water starts getting a bit cooler after awhile, one can either turn up the amount of hot water, or turn down the amount of cold water, to get back to the warm temperature from before. So, the little kid inside of me starts having a little fun, turning them both at the same time – and then it hit me:

What if I was the hot water, and the cold water was other people?

I quickly tried to make this not seem like I was on some sort of bad hippy acid trip, and started to make some useful sense out of it:

I have the choice to either turn myself up to get what I want, or to turn others down.

If this was a conversation, I’d totally Zen Monk you and let you figure this out on your own… but I’ll explain how this practically applies in everyday life, since I don’t have that wonderful pleasure.

Here’s an example: Sometimes when people have the intention to make themselves look better, they’ll make fun of others (turning others down). It’s easy, common, and full of instant (hollow) gratification.

Deep inside they know there’s another option they have that would make themselves look better, and that’s to become a better, more successful person (turning themselves up). Both arrive at the same temperature, but one does it by turning himself up, and the other by turning others down (and in this case turning yourself up is harder, yet more rewarding).

There are also other times when it’s good to do the total opposite. If you’re playing acoustic guitar in a small room, it would usually be easier to just (literally) “turn everyone down”, than to mic the guitar and crank up the amp trying to over-power the audience.

Notice how you can apply this to so many practical things:

  • making more money, or spending less (financial abundance)
  • focus on adding value to your product, or how your competitor sucks (better product)
  • taking more medicine, or eating less junk food (being healthy)

One’s not inherently good, bad, or better than the other (hot’s not better than cold, up’s not better than down): it’s all about contrast and balance. You just need to be aware you always have a choice between which knob you’re turning which way.

Remember not all knobs are created equal, and not all showers have the same water pressure – so once you know what you really want, be sure to chose that perfect combination that you know is right for you.

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