Saturday, July 18, 2009

Acceptance - getting over it

As I was looking further into the virtue of acceptance, I discovered it was another great truth that nobody talks about, like humility, or gratitude. Acceptance has perhaps less of a bad reputation than humility, but only slightly. We are brainwashed by the consumer-driven society into believing it is our birthright to have it all, right now, all the time. Don’t accept mediocrity. Don’t settle for less. Don’t accept this, that or the other. But when we can’t afford to buy everything we are brainwashed into thinking we must have, or be everything they say we should be, we resist, we get mad, we wonder what is wrong with us. Acceptance, like humility or gratitude, is not part of our daily vocabulary, never mind reality. But there is nothing wrong with us:

Being unready and ill-equipped is what you have to expect in life. It is the universal predicament. It is your lot as a human being to lack what it takes. Circumstances are seldom right. You never have the capacities, the strength, the wisdom, the virtue you ought to have. You must always do with less than you need in a situation vastly different from what you would have chosen as appropriate for your special endowments. Charlton Ogburn

How true. Is there a better definition of the human condition?
I have made this connection with acceptance regarding my recent outburst of anger: the reason I get angry is because of a mistaken and unreasonable expectation that things should go my way, that this thing should not be happening to me, that this person should not do what they do. It sounds foolish to state something so obvious, but deep down, isn’t anger saying ‘I don’t accept?’

Apart from the extreme of anger, a lot of the general malaise we feel comes from not accepting ourselves as we are or the world as it is. Acceptance may only be the starting point for other realisations of what we need to change in our attitude or actions. But it certainly is the starting point.

Nobody has things just as he would like them. The thing to do is to make a success with what material I have. It is a sheer waste of time and soul-power to imagine what I would do if things were different. They are not different. Dr. Frank Crane

The happy and efficient people in this world are those who accept trouble as a normal detail of human life and resolve to capitalize it when it comes along. H. Bertram Lewis

It is a common observation that those who dwell continually upon their expectations are apt to become oblivious to the requirements of their actual situation. Charles Sanders Peirce

Make a virtue of necessity. Geoffrey Chaucer

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Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)
Kiyomizudera Temple has a large veranda looking out over Kyoto and beyond