Acceptance is one of the most important things you can do for your happiness.
But there’s a lot of mystery and hype surrounding that word— Happiness. We’re told “do this” or “buy that” and we’ll be happy. So we do what we’re told to do and buy what we’re told to buy, all in the hope of gaining a bigger slice of the happiness pie.
But the truth is that we already have everything we need to be happy. Most of us just haven’t realized it yet.
You know where this is going now, don’t you?
That’s right— Acceptance.
Many people believe that acceptance means defeat (it doesn’t) or that it makes you a failure (nope) and they never give this fantastic tool a fair shot.
Why is acceptance so important anyway?
To answer that, we first have to look at where the need for it is coming from. If we know that acceptance is the solution, then non-acceptance is the problem.
Think about the most recent negative emotions you have felt. Maybe you felt anger or impatience? Irritation? Heartache? Fear?
Now, look a why you felt those emotions.
Perhaps a friend said something insulting and it made you angry. Or your husband forgot your anniversary and it made you feel hurt and invisible. Maybe you felt irritation and impatience pounding in your ears as you sat in rush hour traffic on your way home from work last night.
Though each one is different, they are all the same.
In each situation, you reacted negatively, because something didn’t go the way you wanted it to.
I’ve said that before, but it’s super important, so I’m going to say it again…
You feel negative emotions because something didn’t go the way you wanted it to.
This is important.
We like being in control. And we don’t like to admit that we can’t control the majority of what happens to us. Sure, we have the power to choose, but we never know with certainty what result that choice will bring us. And so we like to pretend that we do have control, that we can choose exactly what happens to us.
The result? Something doesn’t go according to plan and we feel anger (or some other negative emotion) at ourselves (for picking a bad plan) or whoever has done us wrong (for interrupting our perfect plan).
We must accept that we can not control everything.
Basic acceptance begins with admitting that we aren’t perfect, nor can we ever be. We make mistakes and we learn from them. This is how we grow and learn. Perfection is an unrealistic and impossible goal.
I repeat: Perfection is an impossible goal. Tweet this.
Accept your emotions
Since we know we can’t be perfect, it makes sense that learning something new, such as acceptance, will take time and that we’ll make mistakes along the way, especially in the beginning. We’ll still get angry, we’ll still feel impatience. But rather than berating yourself, just accept it.
Say to yourself, “I’m angry/impatient/annoyed, and that’s okay. I am okay.” Instead of giving in to your emotions, learn from them. With practice, those negative emotional spikes won’t be quite so pointy.
Accept the situation
A common misconception is that acceptance means giving up, not striving for progress or for something more. You can still set goals – say to lose your temper less or to lose 20 pounds, all while still practicing acceptance.
Let’s take weight loss as an example.
You step on the scale, note your weight and decide that you really do need to lose those last 20 pounds. At this point you can be critical with yourself, groaning about not exercising enough and eating too many bad foods… OR
You can accept that what’s done is done. Yes, you ate the foods. Yes, you didn’t exercise as much as you should have. But talking negatively to yourself isn’t going to magically transport you back in time and give you the chance to redo it all. And it certainly isn’t going to make you feel confident that you’ll be able to do it in the future.
In fact, all that negativity is going to make you more likely to fail in the future.
Instead, just remind yourself that this is how things are right now— this minute, today. It’s not how it has to be tomorrow or next month. Build up practicing acceptance and bit by bit you’ll allow yourself to be a happier person.
How are you going to practice acceptance today? Share below in the comments.
Image courtesy of Alex France