Acceptance-It Is What It Is

 

Acceptance

I am slowly seeing that acceptance is not a state of passivity or inaction, but rather the starting point of action. For me, and maybe for you, this is HUGE! Trying to change something or make progress toward a goal without accepting the reality of the situation will only lead to frustration and failure. For example, my entire life I have had to watch my weight and as an adolescent I was quite heavy. In order to really change my situation I had to conquer my thoughts of: “Why did this happen to me?”, “I’ll never be able to change the way I look.”, “I could make a change but my family isn’t helping me.”, “If I was taller than everything would be easier.” Obviously the list could go on and on and this stream of thinking can apply to any part of your life that you feel unhappy with; relationships, career success, friendships, and more. Instead I finally chose to accept myself (well kind of) and take responsibility for changing what I could. I never did get taller, but I was able to make drastic changes in my appearance and choices so that today I am much healthier than I was 30 some years ago.

To help you understand:

Acceptance Isn’t
-approval, endorsement, consent, agreement, confirmation, or condoning every situation.
-hitting your head against a wall of “should’s”, “have-to’s”, “must’s”, or “ought’s” instead of
moving forward.
-sitting back and wishing or hoping something will change or improve.
-labeling everything that happens to you as fair, just, or deserving.
-blaming others, the universe or higher powers for what you perceive as wrong with your life.

Acceptance Is
-using creativity and enthusiasm to overcome life’s frustrations.
-making a plan and breaking it down into achievable goals.
-eliminating the words “should”, “ought”, “have-to” and “must” from your vocabulary.
-taking personal responsibility for your life and refusing to whine and blame your way out of
situations.
-a sign of strength not weakness.
-seeing the incidents in life as something you can handle, not an excuse to give up.

Coming to a place of acceptance can be easy or hard; even knowing the truth I still oscillate between the two. To begin your acceptance journey, start with yourself. Many of life’s lessons come to us in the form of perceived “failures”. We can choose to learn the lesson or we can berate ourselves for our mistakes. Many of us can accept and be supportive of others but apply a more critical eye to our own fallible human ways. Strive to be as understanding of yourself as you are to others.

QUOTES OF THE MONTH

“Acceptance is not submission; it is acknowledgment of the facts of a situation. Then deciding what you’re going to do about it.” ~Kathleen Casey Theisen

“And that’s the way it is.” ~Walter Cronkite

Darla shows people how creativity and personal responsibility can change the world by positively effecting perceptions, attitudes, and relationships. For additional information on Darla’s programs and life coaching or to sign up to receive her Full Plate No Fork Newsletter or email her at Darla@DarlaArni.com.

Attitude Matters

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Do you have a special coffee cup? You know what I mean; it’s the one you reach for even though your cabinet is full of clean coffee cups. If might have a chip, it probably has a few stains, but to you it spells COMFORT. It fits your hand just right, or it has a particular message or design that rings true for you, or it was a gift from someone you care for deeply. As I write this newsletter I’m sipping my morning coffee from my special cup. A cup I bought for someone twenty six years ago, but never gave away.

I met Melinda when we were both students at the University of Missouri.  She was wacky, energetic and a definite risk taker. We hit it off immediately. For the next three years we shared frustrations, dreams, and all the other bizarre things that happen to you in college. We very much had our separate lives and worlds, but we would regularly check in and update to make sure we were on the right course. Melinda was a total original. If I heard rocks hitting my dorm window I knew it was Melinda and she needed to talk. When she was chosen to represent her sorority in a formal beauty contest competition, she whisked me off to The Wardrobe used clothing store to buy a hand-me-down formal so she could make a political statement about priorities.

Over the next twelve years we would graduate. She would marry and move twice.  I would marry and move once. She would divorce. I would separate. She would find herself alone in Minneapolis with breast cancer and move back to Missouri. I would divorce. The fall of 1986 found us sitting together in her hospital room at Ellis Fischel Cancer Hospital in Columbia, Missouri having our own group therapy. She would listen for hours to my woes and regrets. I tried to make her comfortable and smuggle in foods she wasn’t supposed to have. I brought drawing paper, color swatches, and other art supplies so we could brainstorm and create. We were both a mess but we were still having fun.

Thanksgiving of that year my mom and I made our usual marathon-shopping trip to Kansas City. I found a Christmas gift for Melinda, a coffee mug. The entire outside circumference was filled with graphic renderings of artist’s brushes, a paint palette, tubes of paint and colorful paint pots done in primary colors; the perfect gift. Two days later her mother called to tell me she had died.

I don’t share this story to bring you down, but rather as a reminder. It’s not what happens to us that’s important, it’s how we handle what is happening. Melinda was fun and hopeful through tragedy and pain. In my ‘Attitude Matters’ presentation I share my top ways to improve your attitude with #7 being ‘Encouraging Others’. Melinda and I each had a lot on our plate, but by encouraging each other we not only got through it all, we were able to enjoy life. Our attitudes made the difference and it was a choice.

I left the mug wrapped up for a long time, but finally decided Melinda would have wanted me to use it, and that’s what I do. I have other mementos of Melinda in my home, but this one reminds me everyday to get outside of myself, encourage others, make the choice. Don’t get me wrong, I still have bad attitude days, we all do. But having the tools to deal with them makes all the difference.

As an experiment, try encouraging family members, co-workers, siblings, friends, the mailman, neighbors and basically anyone you encounter for one week. Make it a point to notice the positives about someone’s work, appearance or behavior and tell them about it; you will be amazed that something so simple can make a difference.

 

 

 

At Your Service

As part of my Attitude Matters presentation I stress being of service and how each of us should consider ourselves in the service industry no matter what our job title.  It is easy to be of service to others from November through December, when the media and local causes focus on helping others, but I challenged a recent audience of college students to come up with ideas that make a difference to others year round.  After giving them a few suggestions, I asked for their ideas of what can be done, no matter what our income level, to be of service to others each day.

Their response was amazing and included:

-Smile at someone today, it costs nothing but makes a big difference.

-Give anonymous gifts throughout the year that help others as you see need.

-Have a positive attitude when dealing with others improves their day too.

-Donate clothing and items throughout the year to shelters/clothes closets.

-Participate in service projects through organizations they belong to.

-Give of your time not just money; everyone has time even if they are broke.

-Send someone an encouraging note or thank you card.

I was impressed with their answers for two reasons; they understood that the little things we do each day can make a big difference and that income level has nothing to do with the difference you can make in another person’s life.

I have expanded on their train of thought with my ‘Little Things Mean aLot” list. Look through this list and pick several to incorporate into your daily life and watch the world change.

Little Things Mean a Lot

1. Smile at everyone you meet today.

2. Send someone an encouraging note or thank you card each week.

3. Ask someone how they are and wait to listen without interrupting or telling your woes.

4. Open a door for someone who needs help.

5. Let the person with fewer items get in front of you in the checkout line.

6. When you take a coffee break, offer to fill up someone else’s cup.

7. On your daily walk or run, move someone’s morning paper from the street to the front door.

8. When you buy groceries or supplies, buy at least one item extra each time and donate to someone or a cause such as homeless or women’s shelters, local food pantry, etc.

9. Find out what your local schools are in need of and donate something each month. This could be as simple as boxes of Kleenex, paper, pencils or office equipment when you upgrade.

10. Contact a local nursing home and see if your talents or time could be of use.

11. Save your change for a month and donate to a local cause of your choice.

12. Make it a point to ask a family member or colleague, “What can I do to help you?”  It might throw them off at first but they will be pleased!

13. Clean out a closet, a storage box, your basement or attic and find places to donate items you no longer need.

14. When you are out for a walk or just walking across a parking lot, pick up trash you see along the way and dispose of it. I carry extra plastic bags in my car just in case there is no waste container in sight.

15. Call someone you haven’t talked to for a long time and listen more than you talk.

This is only a beginning.  How can you help? Send your ideas of “Little Things” to darla@darlaarni.com and I’ll create a master list to share.  Maybe it’s not that we don’t have the time or money, maybe it’s that we just don’t an idea of what to do.