“Be Like Water”

Hector Santana
4 min readAug 28, 2022


A Philosophy That Can Change Your Life.

Water flows freely over, under, and around every obstacle that presents itself. We need to follow that example.

There are dozens of philosophers we can quote on any number of topics as you may remember from your school years. But how many of them taught you to be more resilient and adaptable to life’s axioms? Not many, I can tell you that. Descartes taught me that if I think then I exist. But how does that translate into something that can get me through the hard times? Something that gave me coping skills. It cannot.

How much reading and studying must one complete to get to the point where one learns to positively react to life’s ups and downs? Not much really. Very early on, I learned that if you took life too seriously you would be consumed by it. This came from my upbringing. Living in the projects of New York City you realize that if you take every incident that arises with too much fervor, you may end up shortening your life. I had to compartmentalize the bad things that happened so that I could go on to fight another day.

I have taken that point of view with me my entire life and it has been good for me and those around me. The more you fret about things the more those around you begin to have doubts as well. About you, about themselves about their ability to survive. Thinking positive is not just about thinking more positively, it is about being positive. Down to the last fiber of your body. “Be like water”, I once heard. “Be the thing that fills the voids in your life”.

One of the most important things Bruce Lee left behind was his way of thinking. Nothing is more powerful.

Few people publicly spoke of this philosophy, but among them was Bruce Lee, the greatest martial artist of all time. He learned to “be like water” through the many trials and tribulations in his life. He said “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.” Great advice he often extolled during his short life. Lee died on July 23, 1973, from a brain edema possibly caused by a prescription drug.

But his advice became a mantra for many who took the mantle and trained either in the martial arts or the mental arts. Today, historians that have written extensively on Lee, point to this attitude as a reason for his prowess as a martial artist going on to become a popular Hollywood actor and innovator in the Chinese Martial Arts. Lee understood that he could not control everything around him, but he could control his reaction to everything around him and that was often enough to overcome many of the obstacles he encountered. You too must develop a way to deal with the everyday pressures that threaten your sanity regularly.

How do you cope? Be prepared to adapt. Not every challenging situation is the same. They all present different issues. Changing to meet the demands of the hour means that you have to be flexible in both your mind and spirit. Being like water urges you to create spaces along the way where you can succeed in your own time and place. Be still when everyone is moving, and shelter in plain sight until the moment is right. Do not let everything get to you, be resilient in the face of adversity. A positive attitude conquers all. This has helped me in many ways, not only in my personal life but in my professional life as well. Teaching survival one learns that no amount of physical preparation will prepare you for the metaphysical pressures and duress of disaster, tragedy, or the unknown. Training the mind is perhaps the most important thing you can do to stay alive during a survival situation.

Some may say it is easier said than done, but that mindset is what causes us to pause. Pause means inaction, not reaction. The longer we stay still the more we don’t react to rectify the situation. Some call it hesitation others refer to it as procrastination. Either way, it is damaging in every aspect whether it be in survival or in your life. Being like water will teach us to overcome obstacles. Bruce Lee and a select few learned to see the example of water for what it was, the path to happiness and success.

The next time you need inspiration in your life stop and look at water, notice how it travels, through, around, over, and under every obstacle it encounters. If only we could all be like that. We would be happier, more accomplished, more accepting, more understanding, more compassionate, and more successful than ever before. Incredibly, water can provide an example of how to live life without obstacles. Be like water and live your life to the fullest. Safe trails out there…

Water takes the shape of things allowing it to be in plain sight and unseen. When freed it will rush to take another shape or none at all. That flexibility is what we need in our lives.



Hector Santana

*Top Writer-Camping and Survival. I love to write about the great outdoors, survival and foreign policy. An avid outdoorsman and survival instructor.