Our very first problem is to accept our present circumstances as they are, ourselves as we are, and the people about us as they are. This is to adopt a realistic humility without which no genuine advance can even begin. Again and again, we shall need to return to that unflattering point of departure. This is an exercise in acceptance that we can profitably practice every day of our lives.
Provided we strenuously avoid turning these realistic surveys of the facts of life into unrealistic alibis for apathy or defeatism, they can be the sure foundation upon which increased emotional health and therefore spiritual progress can be built.
Bill Wilson, AA Grapevine, March 1962
If we are not happy with our life or some aspect of it, we must first accept it exactly as it is. Without this necessary first step we will remain powerless to change anything. As my dear friend Bird says, “You can’t jump from air to air.” The only point of control we have is in the present moment. Without acceptance, the present moment will remain forever out of reach.
Yet often there is resistance to acceptance–as if to accept what is means to lose, on some deep and profound level: to lose control, to lose ground. As if acceptance equals defeat. Rather, acceptance is the beginning of building the life we wish to have.
Deepak Chopra has said that 90% of our perceived problems actually are the workings of the mind in defending, denying or trying to change what is. Simply by finding acceptance, we have cut away nine-tenths of what is bothering us. The other 10%, when viewed from the place of acceptance, then can be seen as opportunity for growth, rather than obstacles in the way of our happiness; for when we find acceptance, we are able also to have responsibility–the ability, the wherewithal, and the power fully to respond to our life–life as it is.
Of course acceptance begins within. If I am upset about someone or some situation, it is because I think that person or that situation should be different than he is, or it is. I go into speculation about what’s wrong, and how it should be fixed. I take myself out of life, out of the present moment, and into my thinking. I am no longer with that person or situation, but rather with my thoughts about how they should be, what needs to change, how it’s not working, etc. etc.
When we notice ourselves in speculation, we can simply drop into present moment awareness. We can feel our feet on the ground, the sun on our face. We can listen to all the sounds around us, watch the way the light is playing on the face of our friend. By following this simple practice we remind ourselves of the place of quiet within–the place we find in meditation–where we are at one with Self. And from this place we can know that, at least in the eyes of God, everything in this moment is exactly as it is meant to be. We can begin to let the world, and others, and ourselves, off the hook. Yes, I have made mistakes, but they were my mistakes, and when I made them I was doing the best I could do at that moment. And if I made mistakes, so did others. And they, too, were doing the best they knew how to do at that moment. Now we are here . What am I going to do from here?
What am I going to do from here? What a great question to allow ourselves to live in. This takes us in the direction of new life, of creativity. It gives us the opportunity to find a new way of seeing the world, a new way of experiencing the world, a new way of being in the world. Awake, alive, enthusiastic about what the next moment will bring, and interested to see how I, and God, will handle it.
Today I will ask myself what I find unacceptable about my life. I will write down the facts of it clearly and unapologetically and, as painful as it may be, I will accept these facts exactly as they are in this moment. Then I will ask myself what direction I would like to go from here, and I will take a step in that direction.
Ruta’s Boots, Studio City, CA