Over the last nine and a half months I have repeatedly learned a lesson that others have learned many centuries before me: the key to happiness lies in acceptance. I wish I'd learned it sooner, and I wish I could say that when I learned it, it immediately sank in. But I didn't, and it didn't.
I've spent most of my 30-year-old life rejecting the status quo, because I am an unabashed idealist. When someone says, "Well, that's just the way it is" -- with regard to anything of any importance (be it inequality, poverty, corruption, lack of opportunity or support, you name it) -- my response is, "Well, it shouldn't be, and it isn't how it has to be. That's ridiculous." Injustice saddens and enrages me, and I've done my personal best to fight it.
And that's noble: because when it comes to systemic problems, injustice is ridiculous and unfortunate. But as it pertains to our personal lives, we aren't fighting systems; we're fighting people who have minds of their own, or entities much larger than ourselves. There comes a time when every one of us must fight for what is right, to be sure, but we cannot successfully live life if we choose to fight every single injustice. There are just too many! And if we don't realize that, we will end up exhausting ourselves and never make any meaningful progress. We have to pick our battles, and we have to either embrace acceptance or die trying to fight it. Many, many times in life we are not in control of our circumstances, and we will lose both the battle and our will to fight if we don't understand and accept this.
That's why I've been meditating on the lessons I've learned from The Five Things We Cannot Change...and the Happiness We Find By Embracing Them. It's a brilliant book that tackles both the psychological and spiritual reasons to embrace acceptance, and I strongly suspect that I will be reading and rereading it until the day I die. The lessons therein are that important.
It's possible that the other 49 lessons I've learned could all be boiled down to this: the key to happiness lies in acceptance. But I'm going to tell you the others anyway. Just remember that when you are feeling sad, angry or frustrated, you must accept the underlying cause of it before you can come up with a solution. Otherwise you're just spinning your wheels.