Everyone knows that to improve as an athlete, we need to train our bodies. We need to acquire or improve physical skills. Less obvious is that to improve in life, we need to train our minds.

Training our minds means acquiring psychological skills. One of those skills that I find very effective is the application of Frameworks. I have written about Frameworks in previous posts, such as this one on the Serenity Prayer.

I like to think of Frameworks as guides for my mind. Like guardrails on a curvy road, they keep me from psychologically hitting the ditch or going over a cliff. My Frameworks help me make sense of the world and maintain stable and joyful mental health.

One Framework I love is something you may recall from high school math. It’s the sine curve. This is a steady, undulating curve easily visualized as waves in the ocean.

I love this curve because we can apply it to any aspect of our lives. When we are at the top of the curve (wave), we are in flow. When we are at the bottom of the curve (trough), we are in ebb. Most often, we find ourselves somewhere between ebb and flow.

Let’s use the example of my workouts to illustrate how aspects of our lives ebb and flow. My enthusiasm and effectiveness of my workouts aren’t always 100%. Some days, weeks, or even months are great; others are not. Sometimes I am very enthusiastic; other times, I am not. I flow, and I ebb. Having the Framework of the sine curve tells me that an ebb will be followed by a flow.

Similarly, a flow will likely be followed by an ebb. Applying this Framework to my life (and workouts) stops me from beating myself up. It gives me perspective. I know that whatever I’m feeling at the moment is not permanent. It will change. If I am in an ebb, I know I will return to flow at some point. This knowledge can help me accept the ebbs and know they are not permanent.

The beauty of the sine curve of ebb and flow is that it can be applied to any aspect of your life. Your work, your relationships, and your health: the ebb and flow cycle always applies. Knowing that change will come, we can find equanimity. And if we recognize or feel that we are in an ebb, perhaps we can propel ourselves forward and reach the flow sooner.

Ebb and flow are even more profound when we introduce the element of time. Ebb and flow can last for several minutes. It can also apply over decades. We can absolutely know that where we are now will change. Our challenge is to make progress. But, knowing that even progress will always ebb and flow, we can refrain from getting down on ourselves when we are not flourishing as much as we’d like.

We’ve all had some tough times in our lives, but experience shows that with time and perseverance, life will likely get better.


How can knowing that no state of mind is permanent—the concept of ebb and flow—help you through your challenges?

How can the knowledge of ebb and flow help keep your mind steady and keep you on course?


With loving kindness,

Coach Billy