Thursday, July 4, 2013

You gotta be kidding me...

Have you ever found yourself thinking (or blurting out) these words? "You've gotta be kidding me?"

WHO's gotta be kidding you? The universe? Reality? Reality is not kidding you. You're in denial. Same with the undirected rhetorical question "are you serious?"

These thoughts are one baby step away from "this isn't happening." Would anyone doubt that this is, indeed, denial? A most painful kind of crazy?

The alternative is coming to terms with reality. Staring it straight in the face, accepting that this is happening, and courageously doing what needs to be done. The closer you get to doing this, and abandoning the denial, the more you'll be back in touch with the profound joy that suffuses every single moment.

That is what it means to live fully in the present. To be fully at ease with what's happening, no matter what it is. Even if you're going to take steps to improve things, the first step is coming to grips with things as they are now.

And this is what is meant by "acceptance." It's a radical kind of acceptance; one which can accommodate anything that reality throws at you. It's not a passive, meek, "mokay, guess I gotta live with it" thing.

And here's a little secret: it's tremendously hard to develop this most crucial life skill without practice. And not a half-hearted, once-in-a-while practice. This is what mindfulness is about, and why people practice it so deeply. Though I'm not exactly religious, I daresay this is also at the heart of some other traditions (though what concrete steps they offer to develop it, I'm not an expert in):
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
And wisdom to know the difference
So don't resist reality. Doing so is crazy, and your life will free tremendously better when you stop.