Serenity comes when you trade expectations for acceptance
I was taking a short distance flight for work. The check-in experience was far from perfect; the staff had been rude as I felt they shouldn’t have charged me for just two kilograms of excess baggage. By the time I was boarding the flight, I was already distraught, unhappy and had visible disappointment all over my face. To top it up, I was starving, as I had skipped breakfast. When the stewardess served hot and fresh lunch on-board, I wasn’t yet willing to accept. I hadn’t shed away the excess baggage of my earlier anguish. But with every bite I consumed, my mind calmed down. I was willing to smile again. By the time I completed my meal, I was transformed. I was filled with a sense of gratitude as I handed over my empty tray to the stewardess. I thanked her profusely for food she hadn’t even cooked, only served. This reminded me of my earlier interaction with the airline staff. I was suddenly more accepting of their actions who were only doing their job.
As humans, we are blessed with several skills and talents that help us navigate this journey called life. Our abilities reward us with success in the form of great personal relationships, professional recognition, a powerful position in the society and abundance of wealth. However, this success also leads us to a sense of entitlement. We start to believe that we deserve a lot more than we are getting. With every success comes additional entitlement. This becomes a cause for distress, heartburns, anger and a whole lot of other excesses that we didn’t really sign up for.
We want the best of everything but we don’t want to see the other side that isn’t as pleasant. This is often seen in human relationships with the most complex being marriage. When a couple decides to marry, they have seen the best of each other. They are often charmed by each other’s goodness, beauty, intelligence, kindness, humility and love. The reasons to marry suddenly seem to be in conflict with reasons to stay married. Every passing day becomes a burden that you want to get rid of. Goodness and beauty transforms into ugliness as words of care turn into loudness and abuse. Intelligence is seen as shrewdness. Kindness and humility gives way to one-upmanship. And what appeared like love suddenly seems to breed constant anger and hatred. What went wrong? Who is wrong? Why is it not working anymore?
The truth is we don’t want to see the other side. At first, we are ignorant and later on we want to ignore. The sense of entitlement takes over. “I didn’t deserve this. I didn’t sign up for this. I am not going to take this.” The reality is that the other side exists and is fully alive and kicking. Your not wanting to see it doesn’t mean it will not touch you. The reality is also that what is real can’t be changed. Every attempt to change or transform it into something better will make it worse for you. The only choice, you have, therefore, is to accept it. Acceptance isn’t a sign of weakness. It doesn’t make you smaller. Acceptance brings peace to you. It allows you to watch things you don’t really like with calm and poise as they pass by to make way for the things you like. It’s like being on a road or air journey. You may be really enjoying the experience till you are hit by a traffic jam or air turbulence. Will you abandon the journey midway and go back to your starting point? There is very little you can do about it. You can chose to hate it but it will only hurt you more. But if you can accept it in the knowing that there is nothing you can do about it except watch it pass by, you will be calm and at peace with yourself. The secret to enjoying the bliss of all things good in this life lies in your acceptance of all things not so good that come with it.