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“It’s What It Is": How acceptance empowers us

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It’s not good. It’s not bad. It’s what it is. The underlying message: Who’s to say what is good or bad? So often a seeming positive turns out to be a negative and what seemed so negative turns out to be the best instruction and opportunity. The bottom line: There is no definite way of knowing how something works out no matter how it looks at the moment.

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The implications of the above are clear. Happiness on which we place great value is not unqualified and absolute. True, happiness is often associated with pleasure, possession and power, but it can be elusive and temporary. Inner peace, on the other hand, can prevail even in the midst of suffering -- from loss (of person, job, wealth), health crisis and other calamities. That is because it arrives from within, distilled from profound and meaningful life-changing experiences. The distinction is significant because it is this inner peace that can be the saving grace in our struggles through life. And “inner peace” is tied to how graciously we can accept “It’s what it is” as opposed to demanding life to be some other way for there to be happiness.

But “acceptance” is not to be confused with resignation, failure or simple assent. It is also not a synonym of conformism or mediocrity. Nor is it opposed to impending change and transformation. When we accept ourselves, others and life, we are simply embracing the truth (however hard it may be); if, on the other hand we fight or resist truth, we are generating a lot of turbulence in our minds.

Even if we feel frustrated, or scared, or confused, we can choose to make peace with the present. We might want things to be different in the future, but in the present moment we need to accept things as they are. We will find then that in time we are better able to appreciate life (Every day may not be good… but there is something good in every day -- Alice Morse Earl) and manifest the kind of circumstances, relationships, and outcomes we truly want.

In order to gain a full understanding of how this empowerment works, let us examine some real life situations. Some people are born with extraordinary natural gifts, making it relatively easier for them to be exceptional in their craft or intellect (e.g., child protégés). Then there are the others who must strive with “sweat and blood” to yield the results they want. Bruce Lee for example is said to have practiced 14 hours a day to cultivate and finesse his magnificent art and Ludwig Van Beethoven’s extraordinary genius was similarly hard won. Other greats like Einstein even suffered from mental impairment over a major course of his life. True, these are still naturally endowed geniuses that are being mentioned and most of us are not Einsteins or Beethovens. The principles that applied to them are still the same principles others must face to reach the end point they desire.

The simple fact is everyone -- even those with natural gifts and for that matter, those with specific handicaps and unexceptional human beings -- need to first come to terms with “It’s what it is” (Point A) to be able to successfully get to point B (desired results). Expectations must be based on cold facts and accepting/embracing them as opposed to evading them or resisting them as truths ((Carl Jung: “What you resist persists”); resorting to mechanism of non-acceptance and self-pity through defensive arguments and excuses (“it’s because….” “I am sorry but….” I was so busy that….”) are sure ways to impede progress and continue on a cycle of more frustration, anxiety, and fear.

Who are we kidding? If we want something badly enough, we will make the time, and we will work our head, heart, and our entire being to the fullest. The flip side of the equation is that we may learn the truth, through acceptance, that we do not have the determination, will power, or the strength and stamina to stay the course and so we might as well calmly accept the situation and be at peace with what we have instead of craving for a miracle and experiencing the ensuing frustration and lack of peace as a result.

In short, when we “put all our cards on the table,” the truth that we see may not be to our liking. For positive change to occur, we should not continue to reap from the seeds we have been growing; we need to “accept” that what we produced were based on faulty seeds, and then go on to find fresh new seeds to plant, nurture and strengthen (i.e., new strategies and repeated consistent, steadfast, and precise execution) to get the outcome we want. And so goes the wise saying, We reap what we sow.

But how do we maintain a state of conscious acceptance when unconscious trappings of resistance catch up with us? Perhaps the answer is self-evident. If we are consciously aware of the trappings, we should be able to cultivate a habit of keeping a positive mind set as a counterbalance; surrounding ourselves with positive influences will help in this regard.

For brilliant illustrations of how acceptance works, see the 2009 Oscar-winning movie Blind Side, The CNN interview with the real Michael Ohr on whom the film is based, and the profoundly moving film in which Ronald Reagan starred (his last film and with co-star Doris Day), The Winning Team (1952).

Other tips on how acceptance can empower us

1. Nothing is permanent, everything changes; a lot of things can happen that will transform who we are and have an impact on our life. We need to, therefore, cultivate the ability to truly accept whatever comes and embrace it. Life is too short to choose frustration over acceptance. If we continue to just do, we’ll get what we have always gotten.

2. Acceptance of reality when it is unwelcome and unexpected is one of the biggest challenges we face as life goes on. The best way to deal with these hardships is to find lessons or purposes behind them.

3. So we have accepted the truth of our situation, but we are terrified to adopt a different course of action to bring about the change we want; the task ahead seems overwhelming. The trick then, if there is one, is to break down the overarching goal into smaller goals involving smaller steps and congratulate ourselves for taking even one minute step toward each goal.

4. The brain is magical in the sense that once we experience the feel-good from accomplishing that one small thing we will then feel motivated to do one more thing and soon we will find ourselves where we want to be instead of where we were.

5. Acceptance of self allows us to accept others more fully. Love of self deepens our capacity to love one another. As we practice loving ourselves fully, our relationships will naturally grow through the choices we make.

6. Think of how much simpler and more enjoyable our life would be if we let little non-significant things roll off our back. So accept other people idiosyncrasies for what they are and embrace them. This is where we stand to grow.

7. Create realistic expectations of others. Expect they will continue to act as they do. Then you’ll be pleasantly surprised anytime something different happens.

8. Although it’s hard to practice acceptance when we deeply wish things aren’t the way they are, it is important to realize the truth that sometimes we can’t change our reality, even though we try. So instead of staring at the closed door in front of us, or getting tired and bruised while we try to break it, we can choose to turn around and see how many other windows we have open.

Additional inspirational inspirational messages about “acceptance" can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/empoweringsolutions

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