Accept What Is — Don’t Judge as Good or Bad

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
– William Shakespeare, “Hamlet”

One of the greatest sources of unhappiness, in my experience, is the difficulty we have in accepting things as they are.

Without judgment, without wishing for otherwise.

When we see something we don’t like, we wish it could be different — we cry out for something better. That may be human nature, or perhaps it’s something that’s ingrained in our culture.

The root of the unhappiness isn’t necessarily that we want things to be different, however: it’s that we decided we didn’t like it in the first place. We’ve judged it as bad, rather than saying, “It’s not bad or good, it just is.”

An example: In my recent post, A Beautiful Method to Find Peace of Mind, quite a few commenters thought my outlook was negative, pessimistic, or fatalistic … because I said you should expect people to mess up, expect things to go differently than you planned, and that you should embrace that.

It’s too negative to expect things to go wrong, they said. However: it’s only negative if you see it as negative. If you judge it as bad.

Instead, you could accept it as the way the world works — as the way things actually are. And try to understand why that is, and embrace it. As it is.

This can be applied to whatever you do: whether it be how other people act at work, how politics works and how depressing the news media can be. Accept these things as they are, and try to understand why they’re that way.

It’ll save you a lot of grief, because you’ll no longer say, “Oh, I wish things didn’t suck!”

Does it mean you can never change things? Not at all. But change things not because you can’t accept things as they are, but because you enjoy the process of change, of learning and growing.

Can we make this world a better place? Again, that’s assuming that it’s a bad place right now. But instead, you could say the world is just what it is — and that’s neither good nor bad. You can say that you’ll continue to try to do things to help others, to grow as a person, to make a difference in this world — not because you’re such a bad person now, or the world sucks, but because that’s the path you choose to take, because you enjoy that path.

As you catch yourself judging, and wishing for different — and we all do it — try a different approach: accept, and understand. It might lead to some interesting results.

“Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” – Lao Tzu

Shamelessly stolen from Zen habits (http://zenhabits.net/2009/07/accept-what-is-dont-judge-as-good-or-bad/)

A Beautiful Method to Find Peace of Mind

How many times have you gotten upset because someone wasn’t doing their job, because your child isn’t behaving, because your partner or friend isn’t living up to his or her end of the bargain?

How many times have you been irritated when someone doesn’t do things the way you’re used to? Or when you’ve planned something carefully and things didn’t go as you’d hoped?

This kind of anger and irritation happens to all of us — it’s part of the human experience.

One thing that irritates me is when people talk during a movie. Or cut me off in traffic. Or don’t wash their dishes after eating. Actually, I have a lot of these little annoyances — don’t we all?

And it isn’t always easy to find peace when you’ve become upset or irritated.

Let me let you in on a little secret to finding peace of mind: see the glass as already broken.

See, the cause of our stress, anger and irritation is that things don’t go the way we like, the way we expect them to. Think of how many times this has been true for you.

And so the solution is simple: expect things to go wrong, expect things to be different than we hoped or planned, expect the unexpected to happen. And accept it.

One quick example: on our recent trip to Japan, I told my kids to expect things to go wrong — they always do on a trip. I told them, “See it as part of the adventure.”

And this worked like a charm. When we inevitably took the wrong train on a foreign-language subway system, or when it rained on the day we went to Disney Sea, or when we took three trains and walked 10 blocks only to find the National Children’s Castle closed on Mondays … they said, “It’s part of the adventure!” And it was all OK — we didn’t get too bothered.

So when the nice glass you bought inevitably falls and breaks, someday, you might get upset. But not if you see the glass as already broken, from the day you get it. You know it’ll break someday, so from the beginning, see it as already broken. Be a time-traveler, or someone with time-traveling vision, and see the future of this glass, from this moment until it inevitably breaks.

And when it breaks, you won’t be upset or sad — because it was already broken, from the day you got it. And you’ll realize that every moment you have with it is precious.

Expect your child to mess up — all children do. And don’t get so upset when they mess up, when they don’t do what they’re “supposed” to do … because they’re supposed to mess up.

Expect your partner to be less than perfect.

Expect your friend to not show up sometimes.

Expect things to go not according to plan.

Expect people to be rude sometimes.

Expect coworkers not to come through sometimes.

Expect roommates not to wash their dishes or pick up their clothes, sometimes.

Expect the glass to break.

And accept it.

You won’t change these inevitable facts — they will happen, eventually. And if you expect it to happen — even see it as already happening, before it happens — you won’t get so upset.

You won’t overreact. You’ll respond appropriately, but not overreact. You can talk to the person about their behavior, and ask them kindly to consider your feelings when they do this … but you won’t get overly emotional and blow things out of proportion.

You’ll smile, and think, “I expected that to happen. The glass was already broken. And I accept that.”

You’ll have peace of mind. And that, my friends, is a welcome surprise.

Shamelessly stolen from Zen habits ( http://zenhabits.net/2009/07/a-beautiful-method-to-find-peace-of-mind/ )