Acceptance is Happiness Habit #2

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Happiness project Habit #2 is Acceptance. More specifically giving acceptance.

The previous Habit was Giving Time to Relationships.

I called it wasting time, and could/should write an update entry re-defining it as investing time… The more I thought about it, the more I realized that when I give away time to my relationships– just be with them with no agenda, the easier and happier those interactions are. So I am trying to give time away each day. Delia is going to help me make a calendar that I will share with you to track our habits each month, because we do need to keep up with last month’s habit while learning this month’s new one.

I originally thought I could spend a month learning and thinking about 4 or 5 new habits (like Gretchen Rubin in Happiness Project did). But it turns out I must be a slow learner, as I can only do about one new habit a month… This blog category is “Happiness and Contentment“, and specifically, what can we give to the world to get more of those two.

Giving unconditional acceptance to people and situations is my 2nd Happy Habit for Happiness and Contentment. This is hard for people (like me) who tend to think we have control over our lives and people in them… I often have to remind myself that her crabby mood, his mean comment, their impatient attitude, and all of their behaviors and choices, are theirs, not mine.

However, when I learn to just accept the cold day, the cold shoulder from a coworker, the lack of the other car’s turn signal working like it should, the teenager’s forgotten thank you, it all feels sooooo different! I can still try to will it into my way with whining, complaining, grinding my teeth, and arm waving, but I will only get a sore jaw from all that “shoulding on people”…

Accepting unacceptable behavior is not the goal. There is a difference between accepting/making ourselves available for unacceptable behavior (by sticking around and not exiting stage left when a verbal barage begins) and accepting the person who did the behavior. We don’t embrace the behavior, we embrace the person (after they have chilled out and we are all back to our centers).

When I learned to say to my kids “I love you, no matter what choices you make” after difficult exchanges, it took a load off of EVERYONE’S mind. They were were feeling unlovable and ashamed of their behavior. I was pissed that they acted the way they did, because of the way it reflected on me…

Hmmm, kind of silly, huh? Of course we love them. And of course they are individuals, not extensions of us. Verbalizing unconditional love to my kids that way helps everyone over the shame and blame place. Then we could talk about the issue.

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I only have control over my behavior, not my children’s, not the driver in front of me, and not my boss’. So the habit for this month is to behave in a way that shows I accept the person (but not the behavior), even when their behavior is not winning them gold stars.

One comment

  1. Anne, I really appreciate what you wrote. I agree. One new project or habit a month. That’s enough.

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