There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. – William Shakespeare, Hamlet
One of the greatest sources of unhappiness is the inability to accept things as they are. Accepting what is, without wishing things were different, can trip up even the most serene among us. And yet, accepting what is is the key to living a positive, present life.
Accepting what is, like so many things, is about living in the moment. It’s about looking at the present moment without judgment. In order to live in the moment, you have to be willing to look at this present moment and say “this is what is real right now.”
Does this mean you shouldn’t want things to change? Not at all. But if you want things to change, it should be because you enjoy the process of change, not because you can’t accept the present moment. There’s nothing wrong with wanting things to be different. It’s about finding a balance between accepting things as they are right now, and looking forward to what’s happening next, without attachment.
Easier said than done, I know. Of course, cats already know how to do this – they’re masters at living in the moment, and at accepting the present moment. Okay, they may get a little impatient when it gets close to feeding time, and they might prefer to have the food appear a little sooner than it does, but they’re not going to get themselves tied in knots over the fact that the food is not in front of them right this very minute.
The following suggestions will help you accept what is, and help you stay in the moment:
- Breathe. Taking a few deep breaths anchors you in the moment and calms the mind.
- Acknowledge negative emotions. You can’t force feelings to go away. The simple act of acknowledging frustration, anger or sadness reduces the power of the negative emotion, and makes it easier to let it go.
- Stop using phrases such as “if only I had,” “I should,” “it would be better if.” They keep you stuck and move you further away from acceptance. It requires mental discipline to stop negative self talk, but it’s also a very powerful technique.
- Realize that the only thing you can control is yourself and your reactions. I’ve always liked this quote by Victor E. Frankl: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Utilize that space to accept what is.
- Practice gratitude. Once you’ve acknowledged what is, negative emotions and all, find something to be grateful for. Gratitude is a powerful energy shifter.
Embrace the present moment and accept it without judgment. Acceptance will bring you clarity and the ability to move forward toward happiness. And when all else fails, look to your cats for clues on how to live in the moment.