What I’m about to share with you as a secret of life, the secret of joy, happiness, clarity and success may seem to be a contradiction in terms, but it really isn’t anything more than the bare truth. Living a life of mental equilibrium, happiness, and success is simply living a life that accepts what is and doesn’t argue with what is showing up, (a.k.a. reality). You’ll often here me talk about taking action to re-invent your life or reignite the passion for your business or your writing and take a stand to create what you envision for yourself, but how does that match up with accepting what is? What if you don’t like what’s showing up lately? Is acceptance defeat?
Accepting what is, doesn’t mean that we have to be doormats and roll over to do nothing about what’s showing up in our life circumstances. On the contrary, we create our future through the action we take today, including the decision to treat our mind to positive thoughts and our body to positive life-enhancing chemicals created by our thinking. Stepping into our authority and not abdicating it means actively co-creating our experience by responding to our circumstances instead of passively being tossed about by them and flung into reactivity. A reactive state is a neurotransmitter trip flooded by damaging chemicals that’ll bathe our brains in sadness, worry, anxiety, overwhelm…and ultimately inaction or even pharmacoloogic-intervention. (a.k.a. popping a pill for what ails you.)
Life can show up with things that are out of our realm of control, but it’s how we respond to them that makes all the difference in our experience. Often times our life circumstances present us with challenges that can potentially drain our life-force energy and seemingly take possession of our minds having a very negative effect on our mood as well as our energy.
There’s another way and it’s free as well as life-affirming.
By accepting that which we can’t change, we proactively remove the power that it holds over our life. We can accept and we can decide to act and we can choose to dwell upon or release negative, dark or uncomfortable thinking. When has worry ever helped our cause? When has anxiety ever healed our loved one? When has despair or depression ever drawn us closer to others for a deeper experience of connection?
In all of my early years as a pediatric RN working with dying children as a hospice cases manager and years actively involved in bereavement counseling with parents, I experienced miracle upon miracle delivered through acceptance and consciously choosing a different experience. I witnessed love, faith, hope, and deep healing through incredible life situations of pain and suffering.
All of our experiences are merely that…they are experiences. We choose what we experience. We really do. I know it might feel like something you’d like to toss out and especially when faced with deep challenges a statement like that might make you desire to reject it outright. But feel into this nugget without judgement for a moment. We may not be at-choice for physical pain, death, and the consequences of another’s misperception, prejudice or unconsciousness. We can choose how we respond to pain, loss or what has been brought to us as a result of someone else’s unconsciousness.
We are always at-choice, we are strong, resilient, incredible miracle-makers walking around in meat suits. (A sage woman I used to know used the phrase meat suit to describe the human flesh and I never forgot it!) We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Often we forget the human part and the experience part and want to jump ahead to spiritual enlightenment. Isn’t this our journey…the experience piece? The human-part is fallible and makes mistakes, the experience-part suggests that we are learning. All of us.
Without pain we know not pleasure. Without sorrow we know not joy. Some of the most interesting people, gifted poets, talented writers, hilarious comedians…all knew their opposite in order to find their own unique treasure.
As a writer I know that my fictional characters are far more interesting to my reader when they have flaws as well as obstacles on their journey. It’s no different in real life than it is in fiction. (I’ll admit there are moments when I’ve fantasized about a life less like a page-turner. Can you relate?)
Opening ourselves to the mindset of acceptance allows us to let go and release anything that doesn’t serve to bring us joy, happiness, or success along our path. We can accept what shows up in every moment. We can take action on what we can do, even if all we can do is shift our mindset about the experience we are having in the moment.
My words are not hollow and empty. I’ve spent 27 years steeped in this work professionally. Part of my journey as counselor, teacher and mentor has been to practice this with my own life experience. The practice becomes a gift the more you are able to use it in times of seemingly impossible life situations.
Practical Tools for Accepting What Is:
- Stop. Breathe. Reflect on what is causing you struggle, discomfort or suffering. (Chances are it is a thought that is at the root of your struggle and suffering)
- Make a list of the parts of your life you can’t change, and gain clarity around what you can do to respond and what is not in your control.
- Notice your feelings without attaching to them, ask yourself if these feelings are supporting your desire for increased joy, happiness, clarity, or success. If your emotional body is not in alignment with what you want to create, then practice letting go of what is not within your control and take action on what is in your control. Practice responding to your situation and resist any knee-jerk reactions. For instance: If you need to get a job to pay your debts and decrease stress, get a job. If you need to write to stop that writer’s guilt, then write (write anything…even a grocery list). Do ONE thing a day that you can do to remedy your life situation or the experience of your life situation.
- Let go of the negative feelings you have for what you can’t change and challenge yourself to move forward and even use these “challenges” for positive gain, growth, insight, or service to another who may be going through a same or similar situation.
If you’re not having the experience right now that you desire, take a look at what you can do to reinvent yourself. Is there something you can do differently in your life situation, your work, your schedule or your relationships to support what you’d like to experience? How might you respond differently to what is showing up for you each day to be able to create what you want? The most incredible thing we possess is also the most daunting…free will. What will you choose with yours?
Here’s to your journey, your path, your unique human experience. May you be blessed.