I went for a run the other day and was enjoying my reward of standing and gazing out on the water and feeling that familiar sense of accomplishment and peace. As I was standing, the sun started beaming down on my face and hindering my view. My initial thought was “Damn, it’s too bright and hot now.” I immediately realized the ridiculousness of this thought. For a split second, I was totally agitated with the sun for shining on my face and disrupting my view on the path. It was an incredible reflection of my ego and arrogance to think the sun should adapt to me. I thought that I was, or should be, in control of everything around me and somehow responsible to change everything too.
When we adjust our perception and accept the reality of any given situation, we are able to become more free with each moment. It’s not about being passive. It’s about acknowledging our limitations and owning our responsibility. Through acceptance, we are able to recognize our options and navigate the experience based on how we want to feel. It’s this idea that we may not choose what happens in each moment, but we always have a choice on how we respond and how we feel. That is true power. When we focus on ourselves in that way, we save a tremendous amount of energy that would have been futile to waste on changing the other person/situation. Granted, it may be easier to conceptualize this with the idea of the sun’s beaming rays, I mean, it’s the sun! But isn’t it just as applicable to think of the guy who cut you off in traffic, your co-worker who is incessantly negative, or the family member who seems to only call when they need something? You can’t stop those things from happening AND you are not responsible to change the way people talk/act/think. Just like it’s not up to you to get the sun to shine today.
Acceptance is not about being weak, resigning to the other person, or ignoring a real problem…it is simply about acknowledging the current situation exists as it is without trying to control it and remember that the only thing you are responsible for is deciding how you want to experience it. So when the sun shines or doesn’t; instead of wasting energy yelling at it or wishing it to be different, figure out what you can do to adapt and keep moving forward.