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

 

The practice of well-being: teaching, learning, and growing.

I love the idea that sometimes we have to teach in order to learn.  It becomes more clear all the time that when I share my experiences with someone or teach them something new; I learn the most and ultimately…grow the most.  I used to think that we had to be some sort of expert before we could teach something.  Through my growth I have realized that there is no hard and fast rule that we must master a practice of life before we share it with others.  Especially when it comes to the idea of well-being.  After all, the ideas and concepts of hope, gratitude, joy, love, and happiness are all a practice.  As long as we acknowledge there is no absolute method that fits everyone the same, we will teach and learn through all of our interactions each day.  Through practice we learn how to be present and treasure moments that lift us and fill our hearts and then figure out how to let go of the ones that may not be as kind or inspiring.

There is something magical about teaching and sharing ideas that you are passionate about and believe so deeply within your heart. It’s not about getting people to identify or become aware of things the exact same as you, the magic is that they consider what they agree with and what makes sense for who they are.  It’s like a light within them that shouts “Wait a minute, I know myself and I believe this or I believe that.”  It is a glimpse of their inner wisdom and exploration of exactly who they are and have always been. It’s about creating a reference point to consider and navigate your own outlook, perceptions, and intuition.

The other magical thing is what happens for my own self during this process. I am reminded of my the things I value most and my priorities when I speak about concepts like happiness, satisfaction, love, and hope.  It is an amazing moment of rejuvenation that fills my spirit and calls me to pause and simply take it all in as I hear my own reminders of what truly matters.  It is also beautifully human and empowering to admit to a group that I am growing in awareness in things like ‘letting go’, ‘self-compassion’, and ‘growing in hope’ without claiming to be an expert or some perfect model of total calm each day.

The reality is that we all practicing at the level that we are conscious.  To increase our consciousness, we grow in awareness.  And to grow in awareness we sometimes have to be vulnerable and simply acknowledge that we are perfectly imperfect.

This is my intention:  keep growing in awareness through love, understanding, compassion, and kindness.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those four things spell out LUCK.  After all, luck is defined as “a force that brings good fortune”.  And what’s more powerful than Love, Understanding, Compassion, and Kindness? Whether you believe in LUCK or not; I am incredibly grateful to be able to experience so many opportunities to teach, learn, and grow every single day.

Letting go

Letting Go

The hardest thing I may never truly master in my life is the art of letting go.  I have this idea that letting go is simple yet when the moment comes, I can be at a total loss. If I wrote out all of the things in my life I have chosen to let go of it would be an incredibly brief list.

I have to laugh at myself because it is kind of ridiculous.  Letting go of things that do not serve purpose in my life should be easy so why is it so damn hard?  I hang on to things that are not helpful, not inspiring, not even rationale at times.  I wonder how long I can hold on to these familiar emotions and continue to let them saturate my heart with sadness and frustration.  I witness other people’s struggles and can easily identify the things they could let go…and often think “why do they continue to have the same struggle within themselves, can’t they see it gets them nowhere?”  Yet, I often fail to remember or maybe even comprehend the same magnitude of power for my own struggles.

I know that I only need to let go of things that have no value for me.  When I’m sitting in the car stuck in traffic, I can let go of my frustration or I can sit there and hold it in and express it through various explicit salutations and exasperation.  When a family member demonstrates their inability to consider an alternative viewpoint I can choose to let go of my expectation that they will gain a new perspective or stay stuck in that place of irritation and disgust that their values conflict with my own.  Yes, I can choose to let go of these things yet I often choose to stay in that space of anxiety or pain.

The problem with letting go is that if I let something go there is this fear of “what will fill that space?”  I am only now realizing that when I let things go that have no importance in my life, it is quickly filled with something much more powerful and amazing.  It is replaced with hope.  Because then I am hopeful that the space that was holding on to all of that useless emotion and energy will be replaced with inspiration and love and even acceptance.  And let’s face it, those things simply feel better than anger, frustration, worry, and stress.   Through letting go, I can release this need to control things/events and how people respond to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I like control.  Control makes me feel safe.  Control makes me feel powerful.  The problem with all that control is that it takes up way too much time trying organize things, maintain order, and such.  In turn, when I am holding on to things I am unable to be in the present moment for what it is.  When I let go I am actually being more thoughtful and present in my life than any other time I choose to ‘stay stuck’ in all that negative space. I am able to see the beauty in something or open my heart to an experience that would have otherwise been shut down.

I value being present in my life, I value experiencing hope and love, and I value seeing the good in people.  Next time I find myself wrapped up in an inner struggle that I could choose to let go, I will simply remind myself of what it is I value and let anything that doesn’t match up with those values simply go.  The best thing that I can remember, and anyone for that matter, is that letting go is a practice.  And sometimes our practice will be awesome and sometimes our practice will have lots of room for improvement.  I do believe that as long as we are willing to engage in a practice, we will grow no matter how difficult it may feel or awkward it may be.  As long as I’m growing, regardless of the pace, all will be okay.  In retrospect, maybe this isn’t something that I need to master after all; I simply need to practice and keep practicing until the art of letting go no longer feels like a struggle and instead feels like an amazing opportunity for peace within myself.

Learning how to practice patience…

Patience

Patience

Practice patience.  That’s the inspiration card that hangs above my computer at work.  I stuck it there because I need that kind of ‘in your face’ reminder every day.  I often feel like I’m running around, trying to beat a clock somewhere only to find my patience dwindle and be replaced by an excessive supply of worry or stress.  It happens in the grocery line, it happens when I am driving home, when I’m waiting for someone, and most of all it happens within myself.  It’s that internal chatter, telling me to ‘hurry up’ and ‘do this faster’ or ‘I can’t believe how long this is taking.’

The reality is that I’m not even sure what it means to practice patience. How do you practice something you don’t even feel like you have most of the time?  I meet people who make patience look effortless.  I’m sure you know some of these folks too.  They are the people who smile at the ‘slow-talker’ who is taking forever to tell a story.  They are the ones who drive without a hint of frustration behind the guy who has changed lanes 3 times without a blinker and cut them off at least once.  They respond to a hurried apology with “Don’t worry, take your time.”  And they tell you they had to wait at the doctor’s office for over an hour without even flinching.  Who are these people and what drugs do they take to make them so damn calm and patient?

My old perception would be that these people just don’t care and have no ambition.  I would see their lack of concern as aloof and unengaged.  My newer outlook realizes that these individuals are more present than I could even comprehend.  They are totally in the moment and able to appreciate exactly what is happening versus worry about what may happen 30 minutes from now.  They have figured out how to practice patience and make it work for them. I realize that when I’m around one of these more evolved persons of patience I tend to relax more and feel more calm.  I don’t always understand it, but I can’t help but soak up their sense of peace and wonder if I will ever feel that easy about deadlines, long lines, traffic, and all the other nuances.

As I figure out this whole concept, I found a quick way to measure my patience. I just have to stop and ask myself if I am being completely present in this moment.  If I’m worrying about how long this is taking or when I’m going to be done or how fast the line is moving….I’m not able to take in what is happening right now and what it is that I’m feeling and even more, what’s really triggering that feeling and creating this sense of urgency.   Instead, I’m 3 steps ahead and robbing myself of a moment of reflection and insight.  Granted, I don’t know if I’ve ever thought about being present in the grocery line as the lady in front of me piles up her 30 items in the clearly marked “express lane” but I’m starting to lean in to this idea that if I’m there, I should be present. I’m going to try this out for a while and see what happens.  Lucky me, I have plenty of opportunities to practice!