Ever notice yourself complaining about the weather, a slow driver, or the noisy noodle-slurper at the next table? It’s a universal experience—I do this more often than I care to admit—and this perpetual struggle against reality can significantly impact our mental health.

Yes, my friend: this sort of constant complaining has the capacity to change the way you view reality. What if you could shift your perspective and look through life with a different lens? How would that impact your stress levels? Your relationships? Your physical health?

The power of acceptance has the capacity to positively impact all of those things. By reframing our perspective, we can turn seemingly irritating situations into opportunities for growth, resilience, and a more fulfilling life. Let’s dive in:

The Reality We Resist

Let’s imagine a boiling hot day (over 25 Celsius for me, then), or an incessantly rainy night—our first reaction might be to grumble about the weather. How often have you heard someone say (or said yourself), “isn’t it a miserable day”? The day, need I remind you, is no more or less miserable than if the weather was to your liking. We moan about slow drivers or incredibly noisy eaters in the same way—this is a deeply ingrained knee-jerk response, demonstrated by our peers, accepted as the norm. But how is this subtly damaging our mental health?

The Illusion of Control

Psychologically, our aversion to certain events like these mostly comes from a desire for control. We want things to align with our view of the world, our preferences, and when they don’t, we resist. This resistance is mostly futile, though; none of these external factors are significantly changed when we moan about them, but this moaning just adds to this layering of inner turmoil. Leave it unchecked, and we turn into those grumpy old women people avoid on the street because they’d rather not deal with the negativity.

The Cost of Resistance

Constantly battling against reality in this way takes a huge, often unseen toll on our mental wellbeing. Research in positive psychology suggests that acceptance—acknowledging and embracing the present moment without judgment—can be a powerful antidote to stress and anxiety.

In contrast, resistance often leads to a negative feedback loop. Put simply: the more we resist, the more stressed and frustrated we become. This not only affects our emotional state but can also impact our physical health, with chronic stress being linked to various health issues.

The Power of Acceptance

What if we flipped the script and chose acceptance over resistance? The practice of mindfulness encourages us to observe our thoughts and feelings without judgment. When we extend this approach to external circumstances, we build a mindset of acceptance.

So here’s the mission (let’s take the slow driver as an example): you’re on your way to work, perhaps you left a little later than normal, you’ve got things to do. And then—brace yourself—you get stuck behind a slow driver. First instincts might be to furiously tap the steering wheel, yell out the position of the accelerator (“it’s on the right, dummy!”), or—god forbid—tailgate the poor driver.

But what if you lean into acceptance instead? What if it’s okay that someone is driving slower than you’d like? What if we can allow these types of situations to be our work toward more contentment in our lives? In this case, we’d lean back, drop our speed, and accept the situation (driving a few MPH faster probably wont get you to work that much earlier, anyway, and might encourage a sense of slowing down in you generally; probably not a bad thing).

Not only are we practicing acceptance for this type of situation (slow drivers in this case, but it could be the weather, a colleague, or someone’s loud kids), but we’re practicing the art of acceptance for bigger and more impactful things down the line, too. We’re quite literally teaching ourselves better and more grounded way to respond to life.

Studies on these types of mindfulness-based interventions have shown to reduce stress, support emotional regulation, and improve overall mental health. By choosing acceptance, we can break free from the cycle of resistance and experience a more serene and balanced state of being.

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Practical Strategies for Acceptance

1. Mindful awareness

Practice being present in the moment without judgment. Mindfulness techniques, like deep breathing or body scans, can ground you in the moment, giving you a sense of calm even if you feel like flippin’ the bird.

2. Positive reframing

Challenge negative thoughts by reframing situations. Instead of fixating on the inconvenience of rain, view it as a chance to appreciate the beauty of nature.

3. Cognitive restructuring

Identify and reevaluate irrational thought patterns. Ask yourself, “Is this resistance serving me? What if I approached this with acceptance? How would that change how I feel?”.

4. Gratitude journaling

Cultivate gratitude by acknowledging the positive aspects of your day, even in the face of challenges. This, again, is like a mental workout. Try our 5-week More Joy Gratitude Challenge here for a perfect way to dive into this practice.

5. Get support

If the struggle against reality feels overwhelming, seeking guidance from mental health professionals can provide valuable coping strategies. I couldn’t live without my therapist. Okay, a bit dramatic, but you get the idea. I couldn’t recommend talking therapy (and being really, uncomfortably vulnerable with your therapist) enough.

The takeaway

One of the biggest keys to wellbeing is how good we are at accepting things we don’t like. Instead of resisting the uncontrollable elements of life, let’s embrace them. it might seem small, but practice radical acceptance and you’ll be working on resilience, mental health, stress levels, and overall sense of peace in your life. Don’t overlook it.

Chloe - TYR Founder & Joyful Living Coach

POSTED: 04/03/2024

Chloe is a yoga teacher, mindfulness guide, and joyful living coach, and she thinks the meaning of life is probably to be as happy as possible.

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