Thursday, November 15, 2007

Acceptance versus change?

At Zen Habits today, the question was asked "How do you reconcile acceptance with striving to improve?" My take on this again comes from the serenity prayer, May I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. When I truly understand this mantra/prayer, I also truly understand that acceptance is not "giving up." I do not believe that acceptance contradicts moving towards change.

Acceptance of the world and myself as it and I are, now, means, for me, that I do not have a false view of reality; that I am not looking at the world with rose-colored (or any other color) glasses; that I am not denying reality. Because only when I truly see who I am, what I am, where I am, how I am, in all humility*, can I begin to make real change.

Acceptance thus becomes the basis, the starting point, of true change. And if I live in acceptance, I do not have to strive for improvement. Instead, I can set realistic goals, and a realistic path that I can move along to achieve those goals. Improvement becomes a journey rather than a struggle. It is a journey that I can make in peace, accepting the change as it happens, and accepting, nay embracing, the turns, twists, dips, and climbs of the journey as an adventure.

If I live in the moment, in the now of the journey, I may notice side paths that lead me to a new journey, to a destination I did not envisage at the start, but which is better than the place I was aiming for. If, instead, I strive, heading always forward straight towards my destination, pushing through the underbrush, not accepting the path as it is, my journey will be harder, less enjoyable, possibly unfinishable if I encounter an obstacle that I can't push through.

Acceptance does not negate change. Acceptance enables change.

* Humility, to me, is the state of seeing myself clearly, warts all and accepting who I am. Dictionary definitions that come close are, "The quality or state of being humble in spirit. Free­dom from pride or arrogance. Absence of vanity."

1 comment:

Amy T said...

To me, "humility" is simply the quality of being teachable; being able to learn from others.