Many of my clients seek therapy because they cannot accept that some things in life cannot be changed:”I wish I hadn’t been abused in childhood”; “I wish my spouse was different”; “I wish these things weren’t happening to me.” When you desire to control the uncontrollable, you set yourself up for disappointment and possible depression.
The art of acceptance is necessary not only for survival but also for your own happiness. While you may not be able to change what happens, you can choose how you see it and acceptance is one of those choices. For a person who struggles to control the uncontrollable, acceptance is a change. When life is not going well, you can choose to acknowledge what you cannot alter and look at how to change what you can. Learning to accept life as it is and appreciating what you have is essential to promote gratitude. Contentment is a difficult attitude to learn, but so important. It’s easy to get caught in the world’s trap of working harder and harder to earn more and more, when you may well already have what can offer great happiness. The following story nicely depicts how many live for tomorrow rather then being contented with simple pleasures of today.
One day a fisherman was lying on a beautiful beach, with his fishing pole propped up in the sand and his solitary line cast out into the sparkling blue surf. He was enjoying the warmth of the afternoon sun and the prospect of catching a fish. About that time, a businessman came walking down the beach, trying to relieve some of the stress of his workday. He noticed the fisherman sitting on the beach and decided to find out why this fisherman was fishing instead of working harder to make a living for himself and his family. “You aren’t going to catch many fish that way,” said the businessman to the fisherman. “You should be working rather than lying on the beach!”
The fisherman looked up at the businessman, smiled and replied, “And what will my reward be?” “Well, you can get bigger nets and catch more fish!” was the businessman’s answer. “And then what will my reward be?” asked the fisherman, still smiling. The businessman replied, “You will make money and you’ll be able to buy a boat, which will then result in larger catches of fish!” “And then what will my reward be?” asked the fisherman again. The businessman was beginning to get a little irritated with the fisherman’s questions. “You can buy a bigger boat, and hire some people to work for you!” he said.
“And then what will my reward be?” repeated the fisherman. The businessman was getting angry. “Don’t you understand? You can build up a fleet of fishing boats, sail all over the world, and let all your employees catch fish for you!” Once again the fisherman asked, “And then what will my reward be?” The businessman was red with rage and shouted at the fisherman, “Don’t you understand that you can become so rich that you will never have to work for your living again! You can spend all the rest of your days sitting on this beach, looking at the sunset. You won’t have a care in the world!” The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, “And what do you think I’m doing right now?”