Acceptance In Life: A Lifestyle Choices Series
“God, grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
The Serenity Prayer
How many times have I said that prayer in the past twenty years? Tens of thousands for sure! One would think that acceptance would come naturally for me after repeating that prayer so many times and yet it does not. I will still catch myself, at times, trying to control a situation that cannot be controlled, and all too often the wisdom needed to tell the difference is nowhere to be found. Those are the times when my trusted loved ones will step in and simply tell me to knock it off and get on with life.
The fact is that none of us are in total control of our lives no matter how badly we want to be. Each day brings new challenges; each day brings new opportunities to learn very important lessons. In all honesty I don’t want to be in control of all matters; I have a track record of occasionally making some rather bizarre decisions that have adverse effects, so at least I have found the wisdom to realize that things are better off if I’m not in charge all the time.
It is my belief that the world would be a much better place to live in if acceptance were utilized more often. So what’s the problem? If we can all agree that a little bit more acceptance would be a good thing, what in the name of all that is holy is keeping us from living that belief?
Ego! Three little letters; add them all together and you have trouble in River City.
EGO VS HUMILITY; THE ETERNAL STRUGGLE
During my sick years, back prior to my hard-earned sobriety, I was ego-driven! All the world was a play and I was the director of that play. Or so I thought! My thoughts went something like this: if you would only learn to act the way I want you to act, things would be much better. Or….if life would just correspond to my view of life, we would all be happier. Can you say insanity? Can you say egomaniac?
The more things did not work out the way I planned, the harder I worked to mold them into my vision of Utopia. Imagine if you will a person living his life trying to control everything around him. The natural products of this insanity, of course, are anger and frustration, and the only thing that could give me any comfort from this insanity was alcohol. So I drank….and drank some more….and more….because naturally there was no way for my ego to achieve that which it thought was necessary.
With sobriety I learned humility. I am not the director of life; I can only try my best to direct my own life. I gave up trying to instruct people on how to live and how to act, and amazingly, when I did that, I found serenity in my life.
An old saying has been floating around for years; it was on the desk of Dr. Bob, the co-founder of AA. The first sentence of that saying is: “Humility is perpetual quietness of heart.” Isn’t that a beautiful thought, to have a perpetually quiet heart, free of fear, free of anxiety, free of worry and stress? I may not be at the “perpetual” stage yet but I’m getting closer and that has made all the difference in my life.
IMAGINE IF YOU WILL
What would it be like if others did not try to force their opinions on people, but instead respected opposing viewpoints without anger? Is it possible to have an exchange of ideas regarding politics or religion without a shouting match? Is it possible to simply accept the ideas and beliefs of others rather than feel the need to change them to our own liking?
What would it be like to live that way, to live a life free of fear? Free of angst? Free of being threatened by viewpoints we do not understand?
What would it be like to focus on similarities rather than differences?
Where does this need to be in control come from?
The need to control will always be fear-based. The need to establish dominance will always be fear-based. The need to shout down and ridicule will always be fear based. Why? Simply because we always fear that which we do not undertand. Our fear-based egos will not allow for acceptance; to do so is to show weakness.
The need for control is not hardwired into our DNA. It is a learned behavior and as such it can be un-learned. The question then arises: are we willing to relinquish our hold on ego and turn to humility for the answer? That, my friends, is a tough nut to crack.
SO WHAT IS HUMILITY?
Our old friend Webster tells us that humility is the quality of being modest and respectful. With that definition in mind, how many people do you know who practice humility?
Perhaps now would be a good time to finish that quote that was on Dr Bob’s desk.
Perpetual quietness of heart.
It is to have no trouble.
It is never to be fretted or vexed, irritable or sore;
to wonder at nothing that is done to me,
to feel nothing done against me.
It is to be at rest when nobody praises me,
and when I am blamed or despised,
to have a blessed home in myself
where I can go in and shut the door
and kneel to my Father in secret and be at peace,
as in a deep sea of calmness,
when all around and about is seeming trouble.
Beautiful words, don’t you think? A place of that resembles a deep sea of calmness inside of ourselves. Wow! Can you even imagine what that must be like? Do you want to imagine it?
My goal, then, is to achieve humility. I am not the director of this play called life. I am, at most, a bit player, one of seven billion on this planet. Seven billion bit players, not one more important than any other, each allowed to live their life unfettered by the demands of others. Is it even possible?
I remember a line from a poem I read once in college. I do not remember the poet’s name, nor do I remember the name of the poem. The line resonated with me forty-five years ago and it still does today.
“What more could please the soul than to walk free and know no superior?”
What more indeed! I have not found perpetual quietness of heart, but I have found an increasing number of those moments when I am at peace. That is a gift I will forever be grateful for.
Acceptance was the key for this man. The day, six years ago, when I gave up the fight was the day I stepped onto a new path, one that is leading me to serenity. I relinquished my role as director and accepted my new role as supporting actor, and I am so much happier because of it.
The opposite of ego is humility. The path of humility leads to acceptance and on to serenity. It is a path worth following. Walk along with me; you just might enjoy the journey.
I wish for all of you serenity, happiness, love and acceptance.
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
For more articles in the Lifestyle Choices series, see the following:
If you would like to buy my Lifestyle Choices book on Kindle go to:
- How to Own Your Own Life: Labels, Tolerance and Acceptance
The power of labels. The problem with tolerance. Acceptance. Leading the PIPO life(positive in positive out-coined by billybuc.)
- Acceptance Is Not A Choice
We are different because of each individual's circumstances. There are cultures in our own town, even in our own family. Values are totally different from one to another...but there is exactly where the fine line comes through.