Even if we know very well that our resistance to reality only adds to our unhappiness and misery and that no difficulty or problem is ever solved by fighting “what is,” unconditional acceptance often seems to be so out of our reach.
And yet, there is only one way to happiness and that is to cease resisting things which are beyond the power of our will and control.
Good news is no matter how difficult we find it to implement the practice of unconditional acceptance in our lives, the word “difficult” doesn’t mean “impossible.” Each and everyone of us can get to put unconditional acceptance in practice on a daily basis and reap the benefits of a much happier and peaceful life.
For many of us, the main obstacle lies in the fact that we often confuse unconditional acceptance with submission and apathy… but there’s all the difference in the world. While submission and apathy fail to distinguish between what can and what cannot be helped, unconditional acceptance makes that distinction. Put differently, when we practice unconditional acceptance, we first acknowledge the facts of a situation, and then we decide what we are going to do about it. Simple as that.
Another barrier to unconditional acceptance is to erroneously believe that simply to stop resisting “what is” automatically compels us to like, agree with, or approve of it. Once again, nothing could be further from the truth. Unconditional acceptance simply means we acknowledge “what is” without making ourselves needlessly upset and miserable about it. The mere fact that we don’t like, agree with, or approve of “what is” doesn’t have anything to do with our ability to unconditionally accept and make peace with it.
I believe that the roadmap for happiness can be summarized in three simple words: to unconditionally accept.
- To unconditionally accept that human perfection is nothing more than an illusion and that we will always be prone to think, feel, and behave in more or less self-defeating ways. Alas, our feelings of anxiety, guilt, and unworthiness will never change this reality or “what is.”
- To unconditionally accept that other people – family members, friends, colleagues, strangers, and so on – are human beings who are also prone to think, feel, and behave in more or less self-defeating ways… and sometimes in a manner that we don’t necessarily like, agree with, or approve of. Alas, our feelings of anxiety, anger, and contempt will never change this reality or “what is.”
- To unconditionally accept that overall life conditions and circumstances are simply as they are – even if we don’t like, agree with, or approve of them – and that the whole wide world doesn’t absolutely have to rearrange itself so that we can experience happiness in our lives. Alas, our feelings of anxiety and anger will never change this reality or “what is.”
Remember: in no way unconditional acceptance means we have to submit to “what is.” Let’s refuse to make ourselves needlessly miserable and unhappy by resisting and fighting “what is.” However, if there is an action that we feel would help to improve “what is,” by all means let’s take this action!
On a final and more spiritual note, let me share with you the famous Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr which, in my humble opinion, summarizes so well what unconditional acceptance is all about:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.”
© Chantal Beaupre 2011