Standing in the Sun: a lesson in acceptance

I went for a run the other day and was enjoying my reward of standing and gazing out on the water and feeling that familiar sense of accomplishment and peace.  As I was standing, I realized the sun was beating down on my face and hindering my view. My initial thought was “Damn, it’s too bright and hot now.”  I immediately realized the ridiculousness of this thought.  For a split second, I was totally agitated with the sun for shining on my face and disrupting my beautiful moment on the path.  For that millisecond I thought that I was in control of everything around me and somehow responsible to change everything too.  I mean, who is so ridiculous as to think they can change the sun and why would you want to even if you could?

When we adjust our perception and accept the reality of any given situation, we are able to become more free with each moment.  It’s not about being passive.  It’s about acknowledging our limitations and owning our responsibility.  Through acceptance, we are able to recognize our options and navigate the experience based on how we want to feel. It’s this idea that we may not choose what happens in each moment, but we always have a choice on how we respond and how we feel.  That is true power.  When we focus on ourselves in that way, we save a tremendous amount of energy that would have been futile to waste on changing the other person/situation.  Granted, it may be easier to conceptualize this with the idea of the sun’s beaming rays, but isn’t it just as applicable to think of the guy who cut you off in traffic, your co-worker who is incessantly negative, or the family member who seems to only call when they need something?  You can’t stop those things from happening AND you are not responsible to change the way people talk/act/think. Just like it’s not up to you to get the sun to shine today.

Acceptance is not about being weak, resigning to the other person, or ignoring a real problem…it is simply about acknowledging the sun (aka current situation) exists as it is without trying to control it and remember that the only thing you are responsible for is deciding how you want to experience it.  So go out, stand in the sun or move over to the shade. Just do what makes you happy and love doing it!

 

 

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Be what you want

It is impossible to create immunity from the harmful, painful, and at times devastating statements and opinions at times, but I think there is a better way to insulate ourselves and promote hope than by making sweeping statements of separation or reacting with anger and fear.  Be honest, when was the last time that you effectively persuaded someone to change their values or character by simply ‘telling them something”?

We do not need lessons to teach people, we need to be models of what we hope for.  You don’t have to quit your job and become a full time activist, just be truly active in your life.  If you are reading FB posts that hurt your heart, commit to posting something that lifts you up.  If you see a negative news story that causes you to feel fear or uncertainty; acknowledge your fear and make a decision to move past that fear.  If you find yourself feeling anxious and uncertain, empower yourself with knowledge and seek out your own answers.  It’s not about avoiding pain it or pretending fear doesn’t exist, it’s about finding ways to appease it.

Make a commitment to express gratitude every single day, tell someone you love them, offer help to someone in need, be thoughtful about your communication with others, be open to the possibility of hope, and make a conscious decision to express compassion in every single interaction you have.  If you think of the most powerful ‘lesson’ you ever learned, think about how that came to be….chances are that it was through your own action and decisions.  If I had to ‘tell’ someone just one thing, I would simply share the wise words from Gandhi’s- “Be the change you wish to see in this world.”

Practicing acceptance

In the spirit of happiness and a life of authenticity, the practice of acceptance is paramount.  Navigating self-acceptance is one of the more challenging aspects of my own well-being and I suspect for others as well.  The conflict arises when we are unable to accept where we are with emotional and spiritual development while simultaneously accepting there is potential to continue to grow and be better.

Acceptance is about acknowledging that we are complex beings full of emotions, experiences, and feelings that create our sense of self.  It is about understanding those instances of insecurity, uncertainty, fear, and separation in addition to experiences of joy, love, and hopefulness.  It’s about accepting the reality of all those things without judgement or blame.  Often we think that when we react a certain way or have a certain response, we must launch into the “why?”

The moment we start adding qualifying statements about who we are or what causes us to respond a certain way…we are trying to explain, rationalize, and perhaps even justify ourselves.  When we add these types of disclaimers to our interactions and experiences, we unknowingly add a stamp of rejection to our being which creates the conflict.  We create internal chatter that who we are, what we are experiencing, and our feelings/emotions are not okay.

Accepting the reality of any given circumstance, situation, or interaction initiates a true perspective and shifts the entire experience.  It is no longer about judging, blaming, or punishing.  It is about gaining understanding and empowering ourselves with knowledge and deciding how we are either going to stay in that moment or act on a potential.

As the practice of acceptance becomes more fluid, other practices will harmonize in a beautiful symphony of love, understanding, compassion and kindness.  And when we experience these things deep within our being, the abundance will flow through our lives and help saturate all of our surroundings.

Afternoon by the river

Afternoon by the river

 

How do you experience happiness?

 

If we all can agree that one thing we want is to be happy, then the next question to ask is “How do you want to experience that happiness?”  Often we get caught up in this idea of things that will make us happy.  And most of the time those things are tied to money in some way whether it’s a better paying job, ability to go on vacation, a bigger house, a new car, and so on.

But if you can put all those material things aside and think about how you truly experience happiness, what does that look like for you?  There may be a material component but if you start examining the experience and impact of that experience; the material things will become less significant and ultimately less powerful.

Another pitfall that happens when it comes to discussion of happiness is the one related to circumstances. This happens when we think certain people make us happy or we are only happy in specific environments or even only on certain days (insert TGIF).  We also get caught up in constant comparison of other people and their circumstances.  When we deny our own successes and potential under the umbrella of criticisms and insecurity, we reinforce a life of separation and fear.

The question is simply stated but the answer, I suspect, is as complex as we are individuals.  How we experience happiness is not something that can be manufactured, prescribed, or taught.  It cannot be purchased, bartered, withheld or stolen. It’s not about denying pain or heartache. It is about using our positive experiences to create a natural state of resiliency that sustains us through that pain and heartache.

Happiness is about presence, perception, and engagement.  It’s about being able to recognize blissful moments and understand their significance.  It is about accepting a reality of possibilities that include an infinite source of love and kindness.  It’s about being intentional with your interactions every day.

When we start perceiving our happiness as an experience that we create versus something that is done to us or given to us, we become more confident that it can be sustained even in the face of sorrow, grief, or heartache.  And even more importantly, when we are able to perceive the reality of what generates happiness within our life, we begin to experience that reality in more abundance than we could have ever imagined.

River Edge