"Hiya, Dharma!" I chirped, as the wise one hopped onto my new lily pad. "What's new?" Dharma, not one for chit-chat, replied, "So, my Son, I see you're in a good mood this morning. What is the reason for all this exuberance? And may I say I like your new place! You've made it very comfortable and homey." I thanked him for noticing all the hard work I'd put into decorating my new pad, then explained to him that for the first time in quite awhile, I genuinely felt that my life was back on track. I've be "stuck in the muck and mIre" for several months now but, finally, was seeing some forward-moving progress. And it feels good! So, after a hearty breakfast and some delicious tea, we began my lesson. This week, the topic was accepting others for who they are. "Kissing the frog to get the prince, is a waste of a perfectly good frog, Irwin, but this is something that humans try to do far too often." And we frogs do it, too.
I think we've all have tried to change somebody at one time or another. It rarely ever works. Usually it's somebody we love...or think we love. "Think" being the key word here. Acceptance of others, is key to living a positive life. Everyone wants to be accepted for who they are. Sure, they can "change" into that that handsome prince or fairy-tale princess for us but if that's not who they are at their core, the change will never last. It's fine, Dharma reminded me, to offer others a bit of constructed criticism, if it is for their betterment and not because we think they need it to suit our view of how they should be. Self-acceptance and the acceptance of others isn't always easy. Humans, and frog too, have a tendency to want to change everything. We like things to fit nice and tidy into little square boxes. But life is rarely neat and tidy. Today, Dharma offered up a few simple ways to accept others (including ourselves) for who they are...and how to learn to love the beauty that is within.
1. Watch your thoughts. Think about what you're thinking about. Every time you see someone, or meet someone new, don't immediately go to your default mode of mentally sizing the them up. Instead, try to get to know them as they are. Don't pre-judge others.
2. Look for the positive. Not accepting others comes as a result of seeing the negatives. Instead, look for the the positive; friendly smile, outgoing personality, kindliness...these are the the things we should try to focus on. Not the color of their skin, their religion, or even their political views.
3. Avoid right/wrong dichotomies. Humans love to see things in black and white. Things don't always have to be either right or wrong. There's a lot of middle ground that humans tend to over-look. All or nothing thinking isn't helpful. There are nearly as many points of view as there are humans (and frogs). Learn to be more tolerant of those views that are different than yours. Accepting them doesn't mean agreeing with them. You are simply acknowledging that other view points exist. And they do exist, whether you chose to accept them or not. So why not make it easy on yourself and just go with the flow?
4. Stop judging yourself. Our judgement of others is often a reflection of our own personal criticisms. Once we learn to stop putting pressure on ourselves to always do things the "right way" we stop putting pressure on others to do the same.
5. Focus on the now. Lack of acceptance can come from something in our past. Perhaps something we were taught by our caretakers, teachers, or the news. But it's time we all learn to think for ourselves and to ask the questions, "Is this really what I think now? Does this belief still serve me well today?" Looking to the past for answers can be helpful if we learn from our mistakes, but it's never helpful when we use the past to judge people. One bad apple doesn't make the the whole barrel bad....
6. Reverse the situation. Put the proverbial shoe on the foot (or flipper). "How would I feel if someone thought this about me?" Or "How would I feel if they treated me this way?" When you do this, it sheds an entirely new (and brighter) light on the the situation.
Learn to accept others, maybe even love them, without feeling the need to change them. Humans (and amphibians alike) are pretty cool just the way we are. Nobody should be expected to change, simply to be accepted. So the next time you kiss a frog, don't expect him to transform into a prince. Rather, kiss him because he's adorable and you love him...warts and all.