Have you ever wished you have a better relationship with your parents? Or wished that your overly demanding boss would change and be less aggressive? Maybe even wished that your child would do better at school? Not too long ago, I wished I could reverse time and backtrack certain reactions and demands I had towards an acquaintance. But as with many other things I could not change, I learned to accept things as they are. What I could not change (my past behavior) or the other person who I wished could communicate with me as I would like. Acceptance of the way things us can give you tremendous power.
Acceptance Is Not Giving In
When we cannot change what’s beyond us, we can change ourselves. But it does not mean we have to accept everything that comes our way, including being abused verbally or physically.
In dangerous situations, we obviously have to take care of our well-being first. It’s like in an airplane when the oxygen mask drops, we have to wear it first before putting it on for others. Acceptance is more about accepting others’ as they are. But it does not mean we have to accept situations that are detrimental to our wellbeing. We first have to have an environment to be able to grow and be healthy. Such as making a choice to improve our environment by not accepting abuses in the home or at work. Then, it is about our daily lives communicating, living, and working with others.
For example, there could be co-workers, who are rude because they don’t know how to be otherwise. These behaviors are deep-rooted from one’s past history with the family and culture. Some of us may think we are doing good by wanting to change people who we wish could behave better. Unfortunately, what we think we are doing for others, is really about ourselves.
Are You Seeking A Change For the Better?
Most of us look for a change in our jobs or relationships because we think we will be happier. Though many times, we don’t end up happier. A friend of mine has been changing jobs for the last decade for a better boss and job culture but she has yet to find that perfect job. She was seeking an environment to suit her temperament and needs.
It is not impossible to find that perfect relationship or job, but the possibility is not very high. Despite this, most of us still seek to change the external environment and people around us in order for us to be happy.
Change Yourself To Be Happy
Many years ago, I read a passage by a meditation master who spoke about anger. He said if the world is burning with anger, like fire on the path, wouldn’t it be better we train ourselves to walk the earth like we have rubber soles on our feet?
The world is an enormous place. It includes the weather, animals, insects, water, air, earth, and billions of people. We have tried to change nature to suit ourselves with little compromise. That has caused a rapid change in our atmosphere with climate change. We have tried to change our loved ones, hoping their change would make us happier. Over the years, we found they did not like to change and to some of us it meant that person has no consideration for us.
Not getting what we want and resisting others for who they are, cause mental pain within ourselves. Perhaps those we care about resist change because where they make them happy. Maybe all we need to do is to respect others’ happiness and their habits. We too come with habits that are irksome to others.
Mindfulness and Acceptance
When we are unable to change others in our daily lives, perhaps it is time to look within. Maybe there is something we can change within ourselves. We can be less demanding. We can be more open-minded and embrace others’ faults. Perhaps by embracing others as they are, they would be open to seeing how they could change themselves too towards a better relationship?
Love and forgiveness do not always work. Sometimes it takes a lot of patience as well. Many times, these do not also change a person. But by practicing patience, forgiveness, and love, we end up changing ourselves to be happier. Happier because we no longer have as many demands for the external world to give us happiness. By accepting things as they are, we begin to also take better care of ourselves.
We may have an unforgiving boss or be in an unfriendly workplace. By accepting the situation, we are in a position to evaluate our situation and make a decision about whether to leave or to stay. We could start to look for opportunities to leave a toxic workplace while at the same time accepting the situation. Thus, decreasing any sense of suffering or stress within ourselves. The same applies to relationships.
Mindfulness, the practice of being in the present is to recognize things as they are right now. It is coming to terms with reality. Mindfulness also gives us the wisdom to see if we are able to make changes in a situation, and to change ourselves to be happier.