How To Accept Life The Way It Is

If you’re looking for motivation to accept life the way it is, here it is: resisting or saying ‘no’ to life is a primary cause of suffering. Any negative emotional response we can think of — depression, anxiety, anger, despair, etc. — begins with a judgment that life circumstances should be different than they are.

I shouldn’t feel this way… He shouldn’t act that way… These circumstances shouldn’t be like this… And on it goes.

Keeping this motivation in mind, that resisting or saying ‘no’ to life causes suffering, is worthwhile because accepting life as it is can be extremely difficult to do and we may ultimately need all the help that we can get. If you believe it will be easy to accept life as it is then wait — in time, and probably in short time, something will come up that you will initially reject (often through labeling it as wrong or unacceptable).

Someone or other will behave in a certain way or some life situation will challenge you — perhaps something to do with money or your health, or something else. Watch how you respond in these situations. Life teacher Byron Katie emphasizes the role of emotions and says negative emotions are indicators that you are, in effect, rejecting what is. Spiritualist Eckhart Tolle essentially says the same thing.

Do you feel a tension? Anger? Anxiety? Depression? In each case you are actually saying no to something in the life experience, and again, this often happens through labeling.

Listen for the inner voice. The inner voice labeling something or another always comes before emotion. There is this labeling, and then there is emotion. Emotion, in fact, is a bodily response to this labeling.

Listening for this inner voice is a significant part of learning to accept life as it is. This voice is certainly there, though it may deliver its labels and judgments so quickly that you don’t clearly hear them — at least at first. Keep listening and the voice will become easier to make out.

Just having awareness of the voice and the labeling it does is therapeutic. You don’t need to try and silence the voice — in fact, it’s even impossible to do this (just try to stop thinking). But again, you don’t have to shut the voice down; simply listening to and observing it shines a light, so to speak, on the voice and it quiets on its own.

Finally, consider that when you say no to what is you are making the following statement: Reality shouldn’t be reality. Is there a more insane outlook than this? You may — may — be able to change what is coming, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with attempting to do this, but what is already is. It cannot be changed.

You don’t have to embrace or love what is but saying, in some way or another, that what is shouldn’t be is futile, foolish, and painful.