I recently read an article written by a young man dying from cystic fibrosis. Despite his poor physical health, he reports that he is filled with joy each day because he now realizes that happiness and peace are an emotional choice. Whenever fear or sorrow over his condition intrude, he is able to banish it with gratitude, wonder, and joy. Is it possible for you, too, to learn this skill?
In a recent article featured in the Active Consciousness Newsletter I wrote about how suffering arises from resistance. Does this phenomenon also provide us with a clue about how to achieve joy? What if true acceptance of what is — the opposite of resistance — is the secret sauce?
Studies have shown that although they may live in poverty, people living in primitive third-world conditions are generally happier than those of us living in the developed world. How is this possible? Is it because they are in greater alignment with or acceptance of their lives? Usually we ascribe such happiness to more intact family structures or other cultural supports that the modern world has lost. But what if it’s more basic or internally driven than that? What if they just don’t resist what is as much as we do?
That’s an idea that I’d like you to consider as you enter 2020: that experiencing happiness and peace is really about accepting or aligning to what is — the way you are physically, emotionally, and mentally; your financial situation; the way things are in the world; the way things are in your relationships. This doesn’t mean you need to like everything that is going on, or that you won’t try to do something about it. It just means that you accept that it is .
Go inside for a second. Think about something that you find bothersome. Do you sense resistance? A feeling that you just don’t, won’t, or can’t accept that troublesome thing? And now, take a deep breath and gently let go. Accept what is. It is what it is. It’s what’s true, right now. Don’t you feel some relief?
What’s most amazing about this shift — and it can be quite subtle — is that not only do you feel a bit better, but you are also in a state that enables you to take steps to move forward. Letting go of resistance also makes it easier to feel gratitude for everything that is good in your life — from the smallest flower or a smile from a stranger to the love and plenty that does come your way.
It’s all about acceptance and alignment with what is. Indeed, it’s also possible to not be in alignment with how good things are. You might ask yourself: Why are rich people so often unhappy? I ask myself the same question. I have everything I need in life. Why do I sometimes feel inexplicable anxiety and sorrow? Is it possible that I’m not truly accepting how good my life is?
So many of us living in the developed world find it difficult to feel and acknowledge how much we truly have. We are not in alignment with our reality. Instead, we live in our heads, bombarded by media that tells us we need more or aren’t enough as we are. The media also stokes our fears that some possible disaster could be lurking just around the corner. We become immersed in a kind of fog of denial and emotional turmoil that is so often baseless or focused on trivialities. How can we emerge from that fog?
There are lots of ways. Put down the phone. Get off the computer and talk to people in the flesh. Get out into nature! Commune with plants and animals who are always in the here and now. Meditate daily — the exercises in Active Consciousness can get you started. Get out of your own head trip and woes and help others through acts of generosity.
And if you (or a loved one) do have an illness, stop resisting
that reality. Then you can finally start doing something about it. The
same thing goes for a difficult relationship, financial woes, or a bad
job situation. Breathe. Stop resisting the situation and accept that it
is. You can’t move forward if you are busy running away. And what are
the signs that you are, indeed, running away?
– Constant complaining
– Blaming others
– Lack of gratitude for what you do have or what others have given you
– Using drugs or other diversions and avoidance strategies
It’s common wisdom that people sometimes have to hit rock bottom before they do anything about their situation. What does “hitting rock bottom” mean? That they have finally been forced to face their situation and accept it. That they have stopped running away and now yield to what is. Once they do, they can do something to free themselves. They can also become more grateful for what they do have, and can even lend a helping hand to others.
As we enter 2020, let’s remember that accepting what is is a choice and just a step away. There’s a host of methods to get there — meditation; the releasing techniques of the Sedona Method; working on becoming more aware of what you’re saying and doing and catching yourself when you complain, blame, or run away; trying various methods for increasing self love and self-acceptance (an online search will yield many books and resources); getting out into nature; volunteering to help others; and starting each morning and ending each day with a statement of gratitude or an entry into your gratitude journal.
The year 2020. Is it a coincidence that “2020” is also our word for clear vision? And what could be more clarifying than accepting what is? Rather than making a New Year’s resolution to change something external, how about resolving to constantly make that slight internal shift and align with what is? The rest will follow.