midlife, personal growth

How Acceptance Can Lead to More Joy

chalkboard with the words Choose Joy used as image for Cheers to Chapter Two blog post

Defining ourselves by our failures and setbacks keeps us feeling stuck and stops us from feeling more joy.

Sometimes things don’t go as we planned.

We dream, we plan, we hope, and we take actions with the best intentions and still, some of our best made plans go awry or we’re dealt an unanticipated blow or are otherwise derailed from our goals.

How can we cope with the ups and downs and twists and turns of life in a way that can lead us to experience more joy?

We can start by accepting and acknowledging what hasn’t gone right, where we have derailed, and that at times, reality doesn’t quite meet our expectations.

And when that happens, acceptance can be our best friend.

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” – Anonymous

Acceptance is one of the many valuable tools we should keep handy in our mental wellness toolbox. It sits in there right next to these other helpful favorites; hope, optimism, faith, and gratitude.

Accepting the good stuff is a snap.

Accepting good news, pleasant surprises and happy events in life is easy-peasy.

Badda bing, badda boom! Happy stuff happens and we instantly accept the good feelings and jump right up to pop the champagne and streamers.

Hard stuff… not so much.

How we deal with the hard, bumpy, crunchy, painful and unexpectedly disappointing times in life is a little more complicated.

Hard times make us suddenly feel alone.

We fall apart. We spiral down. We cry. We worry. We let anxiety tear us apart. We feel stuck, in fear, in disbelief, or in denial. Not sure what to do next. Not sure how we’ll recover.

We choose to ride a frightening rollercoaster of emotions.

That’s right, we choose. We don’t often consider that the way we cope with difficult circumstances is a choice. But it is.

Before hope, optimism and gratitude can start lifting us up, there needs to be a moment (or more) where we choose acceptance.

Acceptance plays a leading role in our recovery and healing and in how quickly we move forward from feeling stuck. And just as importantly, it is the part of the process that leads us to eventually finding more joy.

“In the 50s and 60s, space was the New Frontier. Now, it’s the space between our ears.” – Daniel Amen, M.D., Psychiatrist

Acceptance means facing the difficult truth of what happened (past tense). That acceptance provides the space for healing, recovery and realignment. Which then has an organic way of intuitively leading us to the next step – moving forward.

The truth brings clarity and perspective. It is the opposite of denial.

Acceptance means admitting that whatever we’re going through, quite frankly, sucks.

The only way out is up

The magic lies in what comes next.

We rise up. Acceptance and truth almost always lead us out and up. When we’re clear with ourselves, when we’ve faced our truth and accepted the failures and setbacks, there is no point in remaining stuck.

We pull ourselves back together and move forward.

What and how we think is a choice.

Read that line again. You may not agree immediately, but I beg you to reconsider because it is truly the foundation for experiencing a more mindful, joyful, positive life.

It is possible for you to separate who you are from your thoughts enough to recognize the truth of what is keeping you feeling stuck.

It’s like if you chained and padlocked your own legs to a chair with one hand, where you would be literally stuck, but the key to the lock is held in your other hand. You can set yourself free whenever you’re ready.

“The more you let a belief define you, the less capable you are of adapting when life challenges you.” – James Clear, Atomic Habits

More joy, please…

It is our choice to define ourselves by our failures and setbacks and allow them to keep us feeling stuck or to use acceptance as a tool to help us take the first step forward.

Cheers to choices and to finding strategies that can bring us more joy! – Marlene

 


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