Today’s article is going to be like one of those weight-loss ads where they show a photo of someone looking fat next to one of them looking trim. All due to the particular diet, pills or workout regimen they’re hawking.
The difference is, I’m not selling anything. My “product” is free.
And the benefit of this product, acceptance/non-resistance, is infinitely more salutary than slimming down. What is that benefit?
Greater ease and peace inside.
Not total peace and ease. Just more of it more of the time.
I wrote an article recently (link here) about how this work on accepting and not resisting was the spiritual practice that produced the greatest benefits for me.
Let me give you an idea of what I mean by this work paying off. Here are a few examples.
1. MORNING THOUGHT STORMS
A big one would be the early morning rumination thing. You know what I mean. It’s that awful scenario where you find yourself, at four or five in the morning, stuck in a stream of anxious thoughts.
This one seems to affect everyone I know to some degree. Luckily it hasn’t been a debilitating problem for me, but it does happen periodically. And it ain’t fun.
How have I handled this in the recent past? I’ve simply trained myself, when this arises, to 1. Immediately relax, mostly by taking a few deep, conscious breaths, then 2. I just tell myself to accept that those thoughts are happening. They’re there. That’s reality.
But just because they’re there doesn’t mean I have to get involved in them. I just stay relaxed, breathe and watch the thoughts rather than diving in and engaging with them.
What happens? They drift away, like clouds passing through the sky. Then I drift away, back to sleep.
Some of you might be thinking, “Well, that’s just avoidance. Or suppression. All you’re doing is pushing away your problems.”
Not so. When has anyone solved anything at four in the morning as they writhe in bed, tortured by a cyclone of thoughts? If you want to figure out your marriage or your son’s troubles in school, you do it most effectively from a place of conscious presence. From a place of lucidity.
2. AIRPORT ANXIETY
I took a trip last month to the East coast and missed my connection on the way back. They put me on the standby list for the last flight out of Dallas and told me it would be touch and go whether I made the cut.
Years ago this would have resulted in me fuming about how awful American Airlines is. Then my anger would have turned to having to spend the night at some depressing airport hotel. Bottom line: It would have completely thrown me off.
But this time I did none of that. I accepted the fact that I missed the connection and may have to spend the night in Dallas. I didn’t have any big appointments the next day at home so it wouldn’t have killed me to stay the night.
In conjunction with accepting my circumstances, I focused on relaxing and breathing deeply. Luckily, I made the flight.
3. MEDIUM MELTDOWN
This latest Medium rejigger has resulted in a huge nosedive for every one of my numbers. Followers, engagement, earnings. The whole ball of wax is down precipitously.
Years back this would have hit me hard. Not now.
What did I do? I handled it like any of the other challenges sent my way of late. First, I accepted the reality of it. What good does it do to resist reality? It’s actually insane if you think about it.
Second, there’s nothing I can do about it so why get all spun up? After reading several articles about Medium and its changing algorithms over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s futile to bitch and moan and waste energy on it.
Medium does what they want to do. I don’t understand any of it. But if I, or anybody else, thinks things have gotten bad enough, we can leave. Which I might do. But while I’m here, I refuse to waste psychic energy resisting what they do. Because I’ve learned there are two entities we can’t beat: City Hall and Medium.
4. SMACKED DOWN BY A SIX YEAR OLD
After watching my six-year-old daughter acting particularly cute a few days ago, I engaged her in the following conversation:
ME: Is there any chance you could give me some tips on how I could be as cute as you?
VIOLET: Stop being so fat.
ME: (Absorbing the blow, then…) Okay. Anything else?
VIOLET: Brush your teeth more. Your teeth are yellow.
ME: Is that it?
VIOLET: Grow some hair on your head.
At which point I chased after her. Unfortunately, she got away as she is faster than a cheetah. Thus ended my quest for cuteness advice.
All I had to do on this one was accept that my daughter is funny. Cruel, but funny.
I have more work to do
I still have areas that need work on the acceptance/non-resistance front, mostly on the kid front.
The other day I picked up my teenage daughter from tennis at around six and on the way home her friend invited her over for dinner. A friend who lives a relatively long drive away. I was absolutely dead tired as it was a Friday and I’d both written and played a brutal tennis tournament match earlier in the day.
Exhaustion leads to dad meltdown
All I wanted to do was go home and vegetate. Bottom line: I absolutely lost it with my daughter. I did take her to her friend’s, but I was a complete jerk about it. So I still have work to do.
But in a whole host of other areas, I’ve made big strides. And the thing is, it’s starting to happen automatically.
Like on the rumination front. Once I find myself in one of those early morning thought loops, I don’t even need to think about it. I just go to relaxing and breathing. I don’t have to summon gobs of will anymore.
The takeaway — How this affects you
Which is a long way of coming back to the only thing in this article that matters: How it affects you. Because this automatic acceptance and non-resistance that’s been happening is 100 percent the result of my just practicing over these last years. That’s it.
And YOU can do it, too. If impatient, irascible me can do it, anybody can.
That’s the whole point of this piece. It’s not that tough. You just need to practice it.
The how-to of it all
How? When stuff comes up that irritates you or hits your stuff, relax and accept that it has happened. Don’t resist. Gather yourself, then respond from a place of presence.
Doing so will, over time, yield the profound benefit I stated at the outset: Greater ease and peace inside.
NOTHING is better than that. NOTHING. Not Lamborghinis, yachts, Romanee Conti, vacations in Hawaii or anything else.
So do yourself the biggest favor you can bestow on yourself.
Practice accepting and not resisting.