Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: some things are within our control, and some are not.
It is difficult to accept things. Our brains are hardwired to always be looking for the next cool thing, and to always be comparing. This is a vestige of our history, when things were scarce and we had to constantly be on the lookout for resources to keep us alive.
Modern consumer culture uses this against us very effectively. Just look at where all the junk you don’t need is located in the supermarket.
I talk to a lot of people who are having trouble reconciling the idea of acceptance with the idea of change. This is an odd, paradoxical relationship, but an important one.
You cannot change until you accept yourself where you are, but accepting yourself where you are is death.
Rejecting yourself and refusing to admit where you are will strap you down and blind you to the things that need to change, but we wonder if acknowledging and accepting these things without judgment will keep us from wanting to change them.
The key lies in the clear discernment of what we can and what we cannot control.
If we cannot control something, then yes, fully accept it. What you make per year right now, your current weight, how much you swear (ahem) and student loan debt are all things you have no immediate control over. Acknowledge this without reservation. Accept it fully. Embrace these things as your current state of being.
But then ask yourself if you might be able to make changes over a longer term. See if that might be in your control. What would your life look like in a year if you started making the changes required for a second income or a new job today? What if you started eating well and exercising right now? There is nothing keeping you from working on being mindful of your language or sitting down and looking at a plan to deal with your student loans right now. This is how you will find yourself in a different place down the road.
Accept where you are.
Refuse to stay there.
You don’t have to accept the things you have control over, this is never part of the bargain.
Acceptance is not complacency or an excuse to continue unskillful and unhealthy behavior. It is an acknowledgment of where you are so you can have a proper understanding of what it takes to move forward.
Aren’t some things truly beyond our control though?
Yes, very much so. For some people, there are things mentioned in this blog that are beyond their control.
We’ll look at those tomorrow. Have a great day.
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I write, podcast and make videos about living in freedom through mindfulness, intentionality, compassion, and equanimity.
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