Acceptance Equals Happiness
Why do we suffer? Why does happiness seem like an unattainable ideal only achievable for those who have reached the heights of spiritual enlightenment? The answer is actually quite simple. It is all about expectations and acceptance. We as human beings go throughout our life telling ourselves thousands of thoughts a day. 90% of the conversations we have throughout the day take place in our own heads. These thoughts are telling us a story of; Who we are, What we deserve, How others should act and Why this all should happen. If you think about it, we are pretty selfish beings. When things do not go our way, we suffer. Telling yourself thoughts like, “I should have got that promotion. She shouldn’t get mad when I want to hangout with my friends, or he should do the dishes more often,” creates a negative emotional response when those things don’t happen. So why do we do this to ourselves?
Expectations: The Cause of Pain
We create these thoughts because they work for us in most areas of our lives. If the trash is full, you tell yourself, “I should empty it.” and the problem is fixed. If you have a paper due then you say, “I should finish it.” and then you do. For the most part, our thoughts are great at helping us solve our problems. Suffering starts to occur when you tell yourself things that you cannot control. We create unrealistic expectations that we cannot achieve. It is important to see what thoughts you are telling yourself that are unreasonable and also argue with reality.
Accepting reality is about not crying over that split milk or by going along with the saying, “It is what it is.” This does not mean that you should become stagnant and nihilistic. Some people use acceptance as an excuse to sit around on a park bench all day and do nothing. There is no meaning or value in living life that way What I am saying is to not resist the things in life that you don’t want. Once you accept reality, a burden is lifted from you. You walk through the world with a sense of ease and happiness. Things do not bother you because you know that they are meant to be. You can still act and strive toward things that you want, but you also should not fret or become distraught when things do not go your way. You should still go for that promotion. You should still communicate your desires in a relationship. Just do not argue or get upset when reality says that it will not happen at this moment in time.
Below is an example of a specific exercise that Byron Katie came up with. The process is called inquiry and it is simple, yet profound. I suggest you visit her website and fill out her Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet to see how your thoughts are causing you unnecessary emotional pain. She also goes into more detail about the life-changing process in her book, Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life
“I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.” Byron Katie
Check out the video below for an example of Inquiry that I used from my personal life.