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.
You probably all know this prayer as its printed on cards, towels, cups, pictures etc., and yet we often struggle already with the first line, “to accept”.
Instead we’ve become masters in: “Pain x Resistance=Maximum Suffering” (Buddhist formula)
What makes acceptance so difficult?
I cannot speak for others, however I noticed on myself and with clients that acceptance of a certain fact is often equalised with defeat or surrendering. Hitting back or rejecting seems a better idea, however the only thing it does is, it increases resistance and suffering. The more I am getting annoyed about something the more I suffer without stopping the pain. Additionally, if your body had a voice and would tell you the physical/chemical reactions/damage you are inflicting, we would all stop straight away.
Acceptance is neither, but often seen as such, passivity, apathy nor giving up. Things can eventually be changed with the necessary serenity. Acceptance can be practiced too. In some cases, my wife and I use a simple formula, asking ourselves:
Will it matter in 3 months? Will it matter in 1 year? Will it matter in 10 years? Often enough you find yourself already laughing, thinking about the fact a year from now.
I understand there are facts with different severity, nevertheless the Buddhist formula stands. Its all about putting yourself back in balance.
Marcus Aurelius, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Aurelius wrote in his meditations:
“When force of circumstance upsets your equanimity, lose no time in recovering your self-control, and do not remain out of tune longer than you can help. Habitual recurrence to the harmony will increase your mastery of it.”
A smart man.