When you accept things and people for what they are, it does not necessarily mean you approve of them that way. Acceptance leads you to inner peace – and that, if you really want to, helps you to work on changing the way people and things are.
Let’s say you have been trying to deal with someone who has a drinking problem – a parent or partner or sibling or colleague or friend. You have tried to counsel, inspire, dictate and plead with that person to give up drinking. But all that has been in vain. Now, accepting that person for who he or she is, the way he or she is, will definitely help you be peaceful with yourself and your current reality in matters concerning this person. But will your evolved, “accepting” nature, seem like a sign of approval and invite more of such “unreasonable” behavior by the person concerned? Well, it really will not if you ensure that your acceptance of the situation – of having to deal with an alcoholic in your Life – is not seen as sign of your approval of alcoholism as an act. Your acceptance is for you to see things, and people, the way they are. When you are fighting a situation, you are hoping things will change dramatically by your mere resistance. But some situations – like reforming an alcoholic, fixing a broken relationship, turning around a failed business – take a lot of time. No situation or reality can be turned around by resisting it. It is only through accepting a situation, that you can understand its contours with total clarity. It is only by seeing a situation clearly that you can work on solving it.
Of course, sometimes acceptance can lead you to total detachment too. We had a friend who, over time, became an alcoholic and wasted himself completely. His wife loved him dearly and tried her best to wean him off the bottle. But he was unable to give up drinking. Initially, his wife grieved a lot. But then she learned to accept her reality, learned to accept her companion for the way he was, and, in fact, cared for him compassionately, as he was struck by cirrhosis of the liver and had to spend months in hospital. He eventually died, felled by his ruinous habit! When we visited her, she had this to say: “I had tried everything that I humanly could. When I realized that I could not change him anymore, I simply became accepting of him the way he was. I saw him die. But while he was in hospital, I did everything I again could to care for him. My acceptance of the situation gave me tremendous inner peace. There was no grief anymore. Just peace.”
Acceptance works in all situations and with all kinds of people. You can use acceptance to work on finding a solution to whatever you are faced with or practise detachment if a solution evades you. Importantly, acceptance is what makes you peaceful. When you are at peace with yourself and your world you can make more informed, intelligent choices. It is through such choices that you can live the Life that you truly want. When you live a Life that you love, you cannot but be happy – despite the circumstances that you find yourself in!