In a recent Mindfulness at Work session we explored the idea that accepting things as they are is liberating and that not accepting them is the primary cause of unnecessary pain and suffering.
I was asked, "If things are terrible, why would we want to accept them? For example, why would someone want to stay in an abusive relationship?" To answer this, we defined acceptance and how it reconciles with overcoming barriers, achieving goals and being socially and politically active.
In the Moment
In mindfulness practice the instruction is to accept things as they are in the moment; not clinging, grasping or pushing away; not judging. The in-the-moment part is critically important. It points to the reality that whatever is happening in the present moment, is happening. Whatever has happened in the past, has happened. You cannot change the past or the present moment. Though, you can act and influence the future.
The Serenity Prayer puts this in perspective - accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can and be wise enough to know the difference between them.