God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things, which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will, so that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Many of us must be familiar with the serenity prayer above attributed to American theologian Reinhol Niebuhr (1892-1971). In the prayer, Niebuhr is asking God for grace to enable him accept those things that cannot be changed. It is clear that he understood that acceptance is the pathway to peace for fighting what cannot be changed only leads to turbulence and chaos.
Donald Trump recently took office as the forty-fifth President of the United States of America much to the chagrin and dismay of those who oppose his ideals. After his inauguration, chaos broke out in some parts of Washington DC and a day thereafter, the International Women’s March took place in protest of the president. On social media, the bile being spewed towards his administration is indescribable. Yet, for all intents and purposes, he was democratically elected and the sooner the Americans realise this fact, the better for them.
Here in Kenya, after the 2013 disputed presidential elections, the opposition was told to ‘accept and move on’ after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Jubilee Coalition. Sarcastic and scathing as it may have sounded, it was a means of pacifying a divided nation.
Away from politics, the beauty of life lies in its unpredictability. Often times, things don’t go as we had planned and we end up spending sleepless nights trying to force life to align with our desires. In his book The 7 Laws of Spiritual Success, celebrated American author Deepak Chopra discusses how we need to openly receive what happens to us for fighting it is an attempt in futility. According to Chopra, in as much as we might want things to change in future, at the present moment, we need to accept things as they are for that is the only way to make things flow smoothly.
So your marriage has failed and your spouse wants nothing to do with you. Or your employer has terminated your services without a notice. Or you have lost a loved one. The best course of action in such scenarios is to accept the situation instead of fighting it. Thereafter, with a positive attitude, seek ways to make life better.
In dealing with others, it is vital to accept people the way they are and understand that no two people are 100 per cent identical. There is nothing wrong with them being different just as there is nothing wrong with you for being unique. Of course, you have a choice of cutting them off your life and this may work if that person’s life is not intertwined with yours. However, when we accept people for who they are and embrace them, we will be saving ourselves from a lot of frustrations.
Choosing acceptance has nothing to do with mediocrity and resignation. No. Acceptance simply means you have chosen to draw your focus away from the closed door to turning around and seeing the windows of opportunities that are open.
Of course, there is no formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.
Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982), Polish-American classical pianist
Acceptance is such an important commodity; some have called it the first law of personal growth.
Peter McWilliams (1949-2000), American self-help author
Happiness can exist only in acceptance.
George Orwell (1903-1950), English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic
Accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what will be
Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.
JK Rowling (1965), British novelist, screenwriter and film producer best known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series
Acceptance of others – their looks, their behaviour, their beliefs – brings you an inner peace and tranquility instead of anger and resentment.
It is not always that life conforms to our whims and the best we can do is to flow with it and adjusting our sails to weather the storms.
Brian Olouch, Salesman.
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