“Acceptance and Perspective”
Excerpt from Stop Fixing Yourself by Anthony De Mello
This book is intended for busy people, active people, and energetic people. I’m not inculcating any mystical withdrawal from life—far from it. Christianity teaches that God and spirituality are to be found in life, not by withdrawing from them. There are two simple attitudes that help
maintain spiritual awareness in everyday life for when some difficulty arises, as it always does.
The first attitude I call acceptance. It’s contained in a prayer most of us have come to know, called the Serenity Prayer, which goes: “Lord give me the grace to change whatever can be changed, to accept what cannot be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference.” There are so many things in our lives that we cannot change. We’re powerless, and if we learn to say Yes to these things, we will find peace because peace is found in Yes. You cannot change the ticking of the clock; you cannot change the death of a loved one; you cannot change the weather; you cannot change so many of your body’s limitations and disabilities.
Now make an exercise of the things you cannot change. Stand before each one of them and say Yes, because, in doing that, you are saying Yes to God. If you find it difficult to do at times, then don’t force yourself but, if you can find it in your heart to say Yes, understand that you are saying Yes to God’s will, and, as the great Italian poet Dante stated, “In His will is our peace.” Nearly 95 percent of the things that upset our peace are things that we cannot change, and if you develop this attitude you will have peace, even in the things that you are fighting to change.
I call the second attitude perspective. What’s that? Think of when you were a child and you clung to something so tenaciously that you did not want to give it up. You thought you would not be able to live without it. Think of the some of the things that you detested and hated when you were a child or some of the things that you feared. How many of those fears and likes and dislikes persist still today? What happened to them? They passed away, did they not?
Make another list, this time of the things that you are possessive of, that you are dependent on, that you don’t want to let go of. About each one of these things, say, “This, too, will pass away.” Next, make a list of the things that you dislike and can’t put up with. About each of those things, say, “This, too, will pass away.” Now, make a list of your fears for the future and about each one of them say, “This, too, will pass away.”