Acceptance Is A Path To Less Suffering

      For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining, is to let it rain.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In Episode 6 of my podcast, 10 Minutes To Less Suffering, I discuss the concept of acceptance.  Acceptance can be difficult for some of us because it is about making peace with something we don’t like or that causes us physical or emotional pain. Also, the world around us often tells us to focus on overcoming our problems and persevere until we achieve our goals.  Many of us believe this means we should not accept things in our lives that we don’t like, however, this is the biggest misconception about the idea of acceptance.  When you accept something, it does not mean you will not try to improve your life or achieve your goals. Instead, acceptance is about not arguing with reality and letting go of the pain we experience when we resist what is happening.  It often takes courage and strength to accept life the way it is in the moment. But, the ability to accept things is the beginning to finding peace and MAYBE even making our situation better.

So, if you are still struggling with the results of our last presidential election, upset you did not get a raise, concerned your child is struggling or unhappy about how things are going in your life, this podcast will give you tools to help you accept situations in your life and find a way to move forward and create the life and world that you desire.

Here is the link to the podcast. It really only takes 10 minutes to suffer less!

 

 

 

Finding Joy By Accepting Things That Bother Us

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Happiness can exist only in acceptance. George Orwell

The other night my friend and I went to see a show. It was very crowded in the theater so when the show was over it took a long time to exit. My friend started to get very uptight about people not walking more quickly and was really bothered. For my part, I really didn’t think much of it. We were talking about the show as we were shuffling out and I accepted the slow pace as part of what happens when you go to the theater. Part of my mind detached and looked at the situation. I found it so interesting that we were both having the exact same outer experience but such a different inner experience. My friend just wanted to leave the theater and in her mind it was wrong how slowly everyone was walking. But this thought created impatience and frustration on her part. I’m no Buddhist monk, but I accepted the situation and enjoyed my time talking as we inched out the door.

When I got home I was a little harsh about my friend as I repeated the story to my husband. But as I was repeating the story I was reminded of how I had been in a cab going to the show earlier that night and there was traffic. I got upset that there was traffic and that I would be late for the show. Recalling this, I laughed a little. There was no difference between me and my friend. Why? We were both resisting the moment. It doesn’t matter if one person’s thinking, “The line should be moving quicker” and another, “There should not be traffic on Park Avenue at this time of day.” These are just our stories of how life should be, stories that make us stressed and miserable. And even if my friend and I are right about these situations, does it matter? What “should be” is not what is happening in the moment and, because we are trapped in how things should be, we are not free.

So what is the key to internal freedom and joy? In a word, it is acceptance. Often when I speak to clients about the idea of acceptance their knee-jerk reaction, no matter what their problem, is “Why would I accept this? It is not right,” or “I am not going to just give up and accept these circumstances.” But believing that something’s right or that you have to give up is not what acceptance is.  For me, the acceptance is seeing things as they are in the moment and simply accepting this is the experience you are having. The struggle of, “Why is this happening?”, “This should not be happening?” or “This is unacceptable” ends when we accept things as they are. Sometimes there is nothing to do about a situation, as when we were leaving a crowded theater or when we are in traffic. The minute you accept the thing that’s driving you nuts, you stop struggling with it and you stop feeling pain. There is nothing to do but relax in the present with the experience and see what life has to offer. Other times, acceptance helps you find peace and less suffering even as you remain open to changing your circumstances in the future. Acceptance does not change your passion or need for change, but allows you to “show up” in the moment with peace about what is, and strength and focus to make things different.

Nowadays, when my kids don’t clean their rooms, it rains and I don’t have an umbrella, or a client forgets our meeting, I try to smile and say, “I did not expect this, but I accept this. Maybe everything is okay.” I take a big breath in and smile. I still tell my children to clean their room when they get home, I buy a five dollar umbrella that will break in a week, and I try to figure out an effective way to remind my clients of our meetings. I do all of those things at the same time I am accepting the moment for what it is. This is a true path for less suffering and more ease in everyday life.

Take a moment and think about a few aspects of your life that you are not accepting. How would it feel to not struggle with it anymore? Can you accept this circumstance and relax into the moment? Can you accept your situation and still try to improve your circumstances in the future?

Try the mantra, “I did not expect this, but I accept this. Maybe everything is okay.”

And then see what shows up in your life!

 

Ugh, Another Snowy Day

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“A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears.   Michel de Montaigne

I stayed up late one night last week watching the weather to try to better understand how much snow we would get in NYC by morning. All of the forecasters spoke in that serious and ominous tone.  I found myself feeling dread about the morning commute and negative about the day to come. My mind was far from being in the moment and I could not enjoy my warm bed and cozy cover.  I was already living out the next day with projections of discomfort and cancellations, and had a restless sleep.  When I woke up the next day, I was exhausted and both of my children were disappointed that there was not a snow day.  My younger one resisted getting out of bed and ate breakfast at a snail’s pace.  My teenager lost control of her mood and was quite difficult to manage. I started to get upset that they would both be late for school.

Then, all of a sudden, in the middle of it all I was able to see my resistance to the moment and the day.  I realized that my lack of acceptance of the moment was the source of my stress and doom and gloom scenario.  I took a deep breath and accepted everyone being late. I took a deep breath and put my snowshoes on when it was time to leave.  I walked my younger daughter to school and we laughed about the deep puddles and discussed whether it should have been a snow day.  Sure, we were a bit wet and uncomfortable, but we also were happy and talkative.  After dropping her off, I walked back home and felt appreciation that my feet were not wet and I admired everyone’s tenacity around me as they all walked a little slower to their destinations. Interestingly, when I stopped resisting the experience and projecting negativity, I felt grateful and interested in what was happening around me.

How often do we dread future events in our lives?  We lock hard into how we believe that future event will be and suffer greatly before we even get there.  We also leave the moment and miss the life that is before us.

Let’s try to remember that Maybe whatever we are worrying about will end up okay, Maybe it will get better or Maybe we will find a way to accept what is happening and still find the joy of living!  This way we can accept the moment and still have hope for warmer and sunnier days.

Are You Waiting For One Thing To Happen In Your Life So You Can Be Happy and Stress-Free?

So many clients tell me that if one particular thing would happen in their lives, they would be happy and stress-free. The attorney tells me he just needs to win this one big case, the advertising executive tells me she just needs this one account and the retailer tells me he just needs to increase his sales. They all believe that if this one thing happens it will be the key that will open the door on their peace and happiness. Yet when the attorney wins his case, his secretary quits and he is aggravated and again waiting for his day of peace in the future. The advertising executive lands the client, but loses another.  And the retailer increases his sales but his rent goes up significantly.

Just like my clients, I think many of us walk around with a concrete image of what must happen for us to be content. Yet this way of thinking only serves to keep us in the illusion of the future and disappointment in the present. On some level we believe that if we can just solve a few of our problems, then we will be happy and free of stress forever. But we forget that life keeps changing and offering us new opportunities and new challenges.  What if we are putting off the enjoyment of our lives for a day that never arrives?

So how can we find some peace today wherever we stand? It can change with a fundamental understanding that life is not about arriving somewhere but instead it is about being here right now (wherever here might be). When we give up this belief that one day it will all work out, we allow ourselves to appreciate what we have.  Does it mean we won’t still strive to make it better? Of course not. But we can give up the resistance to “things are not right” and the illusion of “if I could just get this one thing then I would be happy.” If we start to accept life as it is, then maybe we can start to make peace with our circumstances and can find joy with life in each moment.

And DON’T WORRY – with that newfound peace and joy, you will work even more effectively towards the future that you would like to create for yourself. Let’s not forget – MAYBE is always at play!