If you want to make any improvement in your life, you must first accept the way it is now. Don’t try to judge it and make it wrong. Don’t try to glorify it or distort the truth to make it more attractive. Just accept the way things are.
I believe a lot of personal improvement comes from people seeing their current situations and finding pain in them. By seeing the situation as negative these people push themselves forward. And this method usually works. Extreme pain can often spur people to action and break them out of complacency.
But this method also has a cost. Whenever you make your current reality negative or wrong, you feel a lot of internal pain. You may reach a higher standard of life for which you can be satisfied, or you may end up endlessly chasing goals and dreams never to feel any fulfillment or happiness.
Personal development doesn’t have to be like this. When you accept your current reality, not deeming it good or bad, you start to see more clearly. You can see that life marks out paths in front of each of us. It gives us obstacles to overcome and problems to solve. Those challenges aren’t to disrupt our path, they are an integral part of it.
Reality is not good or bad, harsh or compassionate. Reality just is. Qualitative statements like good, bad, compassionate or cruel come from a brain that tries to imagine and compare. There is no other reality, no other now.
There is a duality to every experience in life. Every problem has a solution, every obstacle an opportunity, every negative a positive. If you feel confronted by a lot of personal challenges, all this means is that the path in front of you will be interesting, filled with bigger stumbles and achievements.
Does this mean that you should accept reality and stop trying to make it better? Of course not. When you accept reality you realize that every path is equal, each reality neither better nor worse than every other one. So your motivation to improve no longer comes from an inner sense of weakness but a desire to explore.
Does this duality of experience, that each negative contains a positive, mean that you can’t ever achieve total happiness, doomed to oscillate neutrality for your entire life? No, I don’t believe that either. Happiness doesn’t come from circumstance, but from perception. You can achieve great things but still be miserable because you perceive it as negative.
There is an old Buddhist saying, “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.” Accepting reality allows you to see the big picture. Where all your challenges and obstacles are just new and interesting parts to the path.
When you can fully accept reality, it starts to become like a game. Complaining and negative feelings about difficult challenges in a game is silly, the challenges are the whole point of the game. There are some challenges easier than others, but the bigger the challenges the greater the satisfaction.
This is all easier said than done. I frequently stumble downwards into the level of consciousness where I lose sight of this big picture. Where I feel bad about the challenges or circumstances handed to me in some areas.
When this happens you need to train yourself to accept reality, to try to see the big picture again. Even if you can only hold these higher thoughts for a moment, the temporary release of suffering will make it easier to do the next time. Try taking a few minutes out of your day to look at the big picture of your reality, where each path is equal and all negatives contain a positive. Where your reality is yours to enjoy if you choose to.