The Seven Living Virtues*: Acceptance

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.  ― Lao Tzu

 

We’ve all wanted something but didn’t get it.  We had dreams or wishes that never came true.   We wanted to attend a particular college, date a particular person, or achieve a certain goal by a certain date. We’ve wanted a boss, co-worker, or friend to change, but he or she was immutable.

Acceptance helps us realize that certain things won’t change, for whatever reason, no matter how badly we want them to.

When we accept things as they are, we learn to let go, move on, and focus on what we can change.  Sometimes that means allowing doors to close so we can take advantage of others that will open.  The new open doors may provide opportunities and gifts that we’d miss out by holding onto our resentment at what we can’t change.

Acceptance comes in up several areas, including:

 

  • SELF

Whatever we look like, whatever we are, we are unique.   Instead of comparing ourselves with others, we should accept who we are and try to be our very best selves. This applies to physical attributes, but also creativity, intelligence, and talents. Love who you are. Cultivate your strengths and embrace your weaknesses as a part of you.

If we can’t accept ourselves, how can expect others to?

  • SITUATIONS

Life is a puzzle, and there will be things that happen that we don’t understand. They may be global issues, such as war, or issues very local to us, such as a boss who yells at us for no reason other than the sky is gray.

Do what you can – donate money to help refugees if you feel driven to, find a new job if you can – but then accept what you cannot change.  Focus on the situations that you have a realistic ability to influence, such as your own performance at work, and the candidates you vote for during an election.

  • SOCIETY

We are going to encounter people who don’t agree with us, and sometimes it seems like most of them are on our Facebook feed! But part of living in society is accepting that others have differing points of view. And new points of view that we weren’t aware of – and that we disagree with — grab our attention as the world continues to innovate and develop.

Healthy debate is part of society, so I’m not necessarily saying to avoid all exchange of ideas. But if you come across someone who clearly isn’t open to considering different perspectives, just accept it and focus your attention elsewhere.  You can spend countless hours trying to convince other they’re wrong, or you can go do something that helps you accomplish your goals.

Resources:

http://ljubincic.com/virtue-acceptance/

http://www.theocentric.com/spirituality/christian_living/the_virtue_of_acceptance.htm

http://www.dpcdsb.org/MARKE/Our+Faith/Virtue+-+Acceptance.htm

* The seven living virtues are the positive version of seven deadly sins. This entry is part of a seven-part series:

  1. Fortitude
  2. Honor
  3. Compassion
  4. Charity
  5. Acceptance
  6. Forgiveness
  7. Humility

The idea is to learn to recognize and cultivate these traits in yourself, and to recognize and appreciate others who have them, with the intention of being happier and more fulfilled while on the path to accomplishing your goals.


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