A key to living a happy life is accepting what is. This makes sense; indeed, if we are to be content at all in this world, we must be able to find contentment in it as it currently exists, even if we strongly desire change for the better.
However, it is not surprising that this seems like a tall and at times impossible order to fill. We are called to accept and even love what is, but so much of what is in this world seems unacceptable. Disease, war, social injustice—these are just a few of the many things that may feel impossible or even unwise to accept, much less to find love for.
To put pressure on the idea of unconditionally loving and accepting what is may actually have the opposite effect. Unwittingly this notion may lead some to avoid or deny what seems unacceptable, and live sheltered in a fantasy of the world where “all is love and light.” In contrast, others may disproportionately focus on the problems of the world with bitterness and cynicism.
Perhaps a slightly different perspective may help us get closer to true acceptance of what is. Rather than feel we must “accept” everything, we may start by simply acknowledging what is. Depending on one’s perspective, this may seem easy or still a great challenge—but at least it’s a reasonable goal. Few people consciously desire to live in a state of delusion about reality.
Few would argue that there are things that need to change, reforms that need to be made in our society. One might assume that by accepting what is, we are being complacent, not fighting hard enough to make the “wrong” things “right”. On the contrary, being able to truly acknowledge “what is” is a vital first step in successfully implementing any kind of real change. Interestingly, when we are able to acknowledge what “is”, we find that what “is” is not static. Reality is in a constant state of flux. When we become aware of present moment circumstances, we are more able to participate in creating positive change.
In order to see the truth of what is, perspective is key. We each can only view the world from the place where we stand. A part of acknowledging “what is” is acknowledging ourselves as we are, even if we hope for change. The truth is many of the things that trouble us when we observe them outside of ourselves are troubling because they are actually a projection of our own unconscious tendencies. Recognition of this is incredible powerful, and gives us more ability to recognize where we have the power to create change. It also helps us have more humility, and compassion for that which appears to be outside of us.
We all desire change of some sort. Whether you are an activist in the outer world or more concerned with personal change in the inner world, practice compassionate acknowledgement of what is right now. Know that by acknowledging what presently is, you are creating an opportunity to more effectively participate in the changes you wish to create.