Yes, Mother Nature is toying with us as is typical this month (at least in the Northeast). Last week the daffodils were out, this week, the ground is blanketed with snow. What can you do? The answer of course…nothing. Weather is one of those nonnegotiable “things you can’t control”; something we must learn to accept. We’ve all probably heard of the Serenity Prayer before: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Not a day goes by in my work and my life when I’m not reminded of this simple, yet profound prayer.
Acceptance vs. Approval
is a DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) coping skill to assist one with tolerating distress. There are however, many misconceptions about the term. The main one being, If I accept it, then that means I approve of it. And, this is simply not true. Acceptance and Approval – two different things. Acceptance is acknowledging that the situation is occurring or has occurred. Approval means you are agreeing with or condoning what is happening or has happened. Acceptance doesn’t mean you are just giving up, or surrendering to the situation. Suffering is what happens when you refuse to accept the impermanence, imperfect, and changeable nature of life. While the Buddha says, “Life is Suffering”, one could really begin to embrace a pessimistic and depressed nature. If you got stuck there, of course you would be questioning, “Why this?”, “Why me?”, “Why now?” The aim of Buddhism is to break through and transform the suffering. In order to begin to do this, we must first acknowledge and accept the suffering. Acceptance is required in order to move in the direction of health, healing, love, compassion, and joy.
“Life is Suffering” and “Is God laughing?”
Last month, I wanted to get better at writing blog posts and had the goal to write 30 posts in 30 days. I got started and then had to stop because a family member became very ill and passed away. While driving during this time, I heard myself saying,
“We make plans and God laughs”.
“We make plans and God laughs”, I repeated.
Then I started to get angry. Really? God is laughing at us when we fail at our goals? What a stupid notion! What God is so lacking in compassion and gets off on controlling us mere mortals? Well, after I thought on this some more, I realized that this is similar to the Buddha saying, “Life is suffering”. In order to move past the notion that we wanted to achieve something that didn’t materialize or come to fruition, we have to first accept the fact that it didn’t. Once we are able to do this, we can begin to break through and transform our disappointment, frustration, and suffering. So maybe God isn’t laughing at our foibles, but he or she is
acknowledging the opportunity this affords us to move in the direction of love.