As you all know, life can be tough. No matter what positive spin I put on it—and I am positive—life’s challenges are at best difficult. Yes, they provide the contrast helping me appreciate the good times, but still…
As I reflect on life over the years I’ve gathered tools that help me ease the burdens of life that are within my control. And more are within my control, and yours, than I once thought.
What I call the Four A’s: Accept, Allow, Adapt, and Adopt help make life easier in the areas under my control
Accept: Embracing What Is
Acceptance has been difficult for me. For much of my life, control was a dominant behavior. I controlled my emotions, often appearing aloof, when aloof is far from what I felt. I attempted to control my environment by working hard to make things the way I wanted them, then working even harder to keep things from changing (it doesn’t work, life is about change). One of the damaging manifestations of my controlling behavior was that I strove to always be right, even when I wasn’t. Thankfully, love showed me that I didn’t have to be right to be loved and valued. Whew! Life is easier when you allow yourself to make mistakes, accepting your humanity, accepting what is.
ACCEPT reminds me of the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer.
The Serenity Prayer
The Serenity Prayer, by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, perfectly captures the wisdom of acceptance. Change what you can, accept what you cannot change.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Allow: Change, Inspiration, and Opportunity
I’ve learned the Universe is on my side, bringing me appropriate situations to fuel my growth and allowing me to experience my life’s purpose. I’ve also learned that many (most?) of these situations are extremely uncomfortable—truly no-pain-no-gain events. That’s how we grow, that’s how we learn to identify the satisfying aspects of life, and that’s how we are able to fully enjoy the contrasting positive experiences eventually resulting.
Life is a delicate balance of effort and surrender ~ Jen. P.
ALLOW reminds me to let it happen, fully experience my life’s events, even those that are nasty ugly. Be open to the inspiration and opportunity awaiting on the other side of each obstacle. Allow my soul’s message to surface. Allow myself to take chances. Change what I can, surrender/accept what I can’t. Be strong and wise enough to know the difference.
ALLOW reminds me to be open to intuition, the opportunities of change, and the wisdom within conflicting beliefs.
Adapt: Resilience and Flexibility
The combination of rigidly trying to control while maintaining the appearance of always being right prevented me from adapting to changing situations. Then I found the magic solution of resiliency. Life is change, and change is seldom under my control. When situations and circumstances unexpectedly appear, I’m happier and healthier when I am resilient, adapting to each new situation. I’ve learned to depend on my strengths to support adaptation, as we’re always at our best when using strengths.
Remember those blow-up Bozo the Clown toys? You could knock them over and they’d bounce right back thanks to the weights in the base. Resilience is like being Bozo, always bouncing back up after a hard knock. Life knocks us down sometimes, but we choose whether to get back up.
Adapt reminds me to accept what has occurred rather than fighting to reinstate the past. It reminds me to find the opportunities for growth within the new reality. Nothing is all bad, nothing.
Adopt: Grow by Assimilating Best Practices
The procedures and systems of the most successful companies are often labeled best practices. Other companies shoot for excellence by incorporating these best practices in their businesses. The positive psychology community of researchers provides a wealth of best practice information on personal growth, productivity, and happiness. By following positive psychology publications we can adopt the behavioral and cognitive practices of those most successful at happy, productive lives.
Adopting some of the successful thinking, believing, and behavioral practices of other people allows me to learn from their experiences, assimilating the parts and pieces of their best efforts which fit me. Life is not a test requiring each of us to do this on our own. It’s a team experience. As we sort through the mysteries of living we can learn from and help each other.
ADOPT reminds me that life is not a competition, despite the media and social network hullabaloo of who is best, who is worst, who is trending. Life is not a competition. Everyone is doing their best, while learning, growing, and, yes, making mistakes. Watch what others do and believe. What fits me, my values, and my purpose is worthy of adopting as my own.
Accept, Allow, Adapt, and Adopt
Living with the four A’s makes for an easier, more productive, happier life. At least it does for me. I hope these insights are of value to you, too.
- Featured image courtesy Flikr user DomsGuide.com, CC Attr. Lic.
- Bozo image courtesy Flickr user Thomas Hawk , CC Attr. Lic.
- Surrender image courtesy Flickr user Beth Scupham, CC Attr. Lic., no changes made to image.
- Life is a delicate balance quote courtesy Jen P., a wise soul and yoga instructor extraordinaire.