I’ve been thinking about acceptance lately…probably because I have seen this attribute regularly in Guatemala. What is acceptance? I define acceptance as the peaceful acknowledgment of how things are at an exact moment in time.
This doesn’t mean that things can’t change or that you cannot take steps to make a situation different. On the contrary, acceptance of a moment in time gives you the space to determine whether or not you can change the situation, and if you can and want to, the type of action you will plan to take.
The amazing thing about acceptance is that it helps minimize personal suffering. By accepting what is in any given moment, we are not expecting what we think the moment should be. Imagine how much less stress, worry and pain you could carry through life by removing expectations on how things should be!
Let me share a recent example.
I was at a birthday party recently here in Guatemala. There was a woman there that I hadn’t met before who had a baby who was maybe eight months old. It was easily apparent that the baby was different from other children his age. He wasn’t happily gurgling and trying to crawl or walk. His body, arms and legs were stiff, and his head was a little misshapen.
I found out that soon after the baby was born, someone accidently dropped him. Newborn babies do not have a hard protective skull over their brains, and an accident like that could – and did, in this case – cause permanent, irreversible damage.
There’s no denying that this was a horrible accident, and yet, I saw a serene acceptance in the boy’s mother. She had come to terms with it. She knew that there was nothing that could be done to fix the damage that had been done, and accepted this. She wasn’t filled with rage, bitterness or hatred toward the person who dropped her son. She wasn’t playing and replaying “what if” scenarios in her mind. She was not lamenting about how her son should be or what he should be able to do. Instead, she chose to simply and completely love her son just as he is today. Through her acceptance, she was able to release her pain and sorrow and enjoy the moments with her son.
Ultimately, the only thing we can change with 100% certainty is ourselves and how we respond to a situation. We may take actions, such as taking an injured baby to the doctor, but even then, we have no guarantee that we will get the outcome that we desire. By embracing acceptance, we can continue moving forward in our lives with a peaceful, joyful heart.
How have you embraced acceptance? Are there areas in your life where you need to do more of this?