Practicing Acceptance

Life is unpredictable, and naturally, we encounter events that we may not want or enjoy. How many times have you been running late, only to find yourself caught in traffic or behind a slow driver? If we don’t accept that things like this are normal, and expected parts of life, our minds are torn and pulled by every surprise and twist that life inevitably will throw at us.

A famous example of acceptance in the face of overwhelming adversity and pain can be found in the novel “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. The novel tells the story of a father and son struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Throughout the novel, the father must confront numerous challenges, including starvation, sickness, and violence. Despite these hardships, the father maintains a sense of acceptance and resilience, acknowledging the difficulties he faces while also staying focused on his goal of protecting his son. In many ways, this novel illustrates the harsh truth of our lives. In the end, we all leave this Earth and we must accept this unknown and universal path that awaits all of us.

Similarly, Epictetus wrote, “Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not.” By accepting that certain events are beyond our control, we can focus on what we can control, such as our thoughts, attitudes, and actions towards any event that presents itself to us. We can find peace in the present moment wherever we are, even if and especially when we’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Some tips for cultivating a mindset of acceptance:

  1. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of turning attention to the present moment without judgment. By practicing mindfulness, we can learn to accept our thoughts, feelings and situations as they are, without compulsively needing to change them.

  2. Reframe negative thoughts: When we encounter a difficult situation, it is natural to have negative thoughts. However, we can learn to reframe these thoughts in a more positive light. For example, instead of thinking, “This is the worst thing that could happen,” we could think, “This is a difficult situation, but I can handle it.”

  3. Find meaning in difficult experiences: Difficult experiences can be an opportunity for growth and learning. Challenging experiences are given to us in order for us to grow from them. By finding meaning in these experiences, we can turn them into something positive and character-building.

  4. Practice gratitude: Gratitude is the practice of being thankful for what we have, rather than focusing on what we lack. By practicing gratitude, we can learn to appreciate the good things in our lives, even when things are difficult. The good in our life always outweighs the bad, we just often forget that.