This task raises the question of what it means to be “accepting” of something.
We “accept” some thing, person or event, when we do not put any negative emotional energy or harbor any negative thoughts about it or them.
For example, if I show you a piece of paper your response might be: “Ok, that’s a piece of paper.” You are not angry or jealous, depressed or elated. You do not have any negative thoughts about it. I could show you something else that might spark all kinds of emotional and intellectual responses. That indicates that you are not accepting it.
It is very important that we respond emotionally to things that are out of order. Otherwise we would never accomplish much to make the world a better place. The problem comes when we put that energy into things over which we have no control.
It seems like such a simple thing, yet it can be very difficult to follow.
When we find ourselves railing at the state of the world we are getting far away from serenity. “But” you might well asked, “shouldn’t we be indignant at the terrible state of things?” And the answer is, “Your indignation does no good unless it leads to some positive action. Failing that, let go and learn to accept things as they are. This brings you peace of mind, and makes you a power for good.”
Byron Katie in her excellent books, goes one step further and asks us to LOVE what is. This requires much spiritual work. The rewards for being able to do it are great, involving becoming a positive instead of a negative force in the world, and changing it in the only way we can, by changing our own attitude.
In his book, Divine Providence, Swedenborg in dealing with the problem of evil, says that there are some things that God permits, even though they are contrary to his will.
“Saying that God allows something to happen does not mean that he wants it to happen.” Swedenborg – Divine Providence #234
If you want to be happy, learn to accept things as they are. This concept is beautifully expressed in the well-loved serenity prayer, composed by the theologian-philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”
Task #25 – Accepting What Is
When you find yourself reacting negatively to something, ask yourself: “Is this something I can and should change?” If the answer is “No,” just let go, and accept it.
This essay written by Frank S. Rose