Acceptance has two forms: perseverance and resignation. The distinction has a powerful impact on your ability to live life fully.
There is a form of acceptance in which we acknowledge what exists while continuing pursuit of what we desire. We accept the reality we face today confident in the knowledge that with focus and sustained effort we can change the reality we’re experiencing.
This is a healthy form of acceptance. In this form of acceptance, we don’t bemoan our current reality…it is what it is. Instead, we:
- Envision the reality we want.
- Lay out a plan of action.
- Act upon our plan.
- Learn from what we experience.
- Adapt and eventually create the reality we desire.
Let’s contrast that with the other form of acceptance.
In this form, we accept our current reality as being unchangeable. We’re not happy with our lot in life, but we believe that there is little, if anything, we can do to change it.
Obviously this form of acceptance results in an unexciting, unfulfilling, joyless existence. This mindset, this acceptance, often leads to feelings of helplessness which intensifies our “why bother” attitude. We’re miserable or at least apathetic. The demeanor that accompanies these feelings causes others to avoid us because they don’t want our mood to pull them down. The isolation that often occurs reinforce the hopelessness of our existence.
This is not a healthy way to live. All too often this “choice” is made subconsciously. We’re not aware that we’re giving up on life. That we’re resigning ourselves to misery when we could be living joyfully.
If you’re one of the fortunate ones who possess perseverant acceptance, keep doing what you’re doing. Remind yourself each morning and each evening that you’ve never failed to produce the result you desired…even though it may have taken years to get the result. Simple reminders each day assure that you’ll live joyfully regardless of what life throws at you.
For those of you who realize that you’ve resigned yourself to your current reality even though it’s one you don’t enjoy, realize that you’ve made a choice…albeit a subconscious choice to accept your current reality.
Next, take a few moments to think of all that you’ve accomplished in life. This will take some effort because you’ve been focused on what you haven’t accomplished yet. As your remind yourself of the successes in your life, you’ll find yourself being grateful for the good you’ve enjoyed. Your desire for more will rekindle as will your confidence in your ability to achieve what you desire.
Each morning and each evening, remind yourself of the good in your life. Also remind yourself that the joyful living is a combination of appreciation for the good fortune we’ve experienced and pursuit of what we desire. Awareness of the good spawns feelings of contentment. The desire for more fuels the joy and excitement of pursuing something that has meaning for us. Eastern philosophy has long said “It’s the journey, not the destination.” We need look no further than our own experience to validate the wisdom of this message. We know that when a goal is achieved, we quickly establish a new goal. It’s natural for us to want to experience the joy of accomplishment again and again and again throughout our lives.
If you haven’t yet resigned yourself to your current reality but are entertaining thoughts like “why bother,” realize that you’re about to make a choice. Make that choice consciously. Choose perseverant acceptance and the joy it affords.
For our kids
First and foremost, live this message. When kids see you living joyfully, see you handling adversity with confidence, resolve and courage, they will mimic that behavior. They may even ask you how you’re able to remain so calm, so focused and so energetic in the pursuit of your dreams.
Their questions open the door for you to explain to them that dealing with adversity is a choice. They can choose to accept their current reality and work at changing it something to what they desire or they can resign themselves to a life they don’t want, don’t enjoy, and won’t make them happy. Then encourage them to choose consciously…to not allow their emotions to dictate the choice they make.
Kids who learn this lesson early are less likely to experience fear, anxiety and depression…three predictors of suicidal tendencies. What greater gift can we give our kids?
Let others know that you love them by sharing this blog post. They’ll appreciate that you care.
I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your thoughts in a comment.
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Dale, I count myself blessed. Until you educated me, I didn’t know that there was such an emotion called resignation acceptance 🙂 I’m going to stick with the perseverant acceptance!
Good for you, Bill. In all the years we’ve known one another, I’ve always found you in the perseverant acceptance category. BTW, it’s what makes you such an important element in the progress others make when they work with you Keep up the great work.