I had a phone call from a friend recently who was reading a book about mindfulness and the value of accepting your current state. She asked for my viewpoint on the topic because I tend to focus more on how to change your life (i.e. get what you want) rather than being content with what you currently have (if in fact, you want to change). I try to be open-minded to different concepts and this is a topic that comes up often so I wanted to unpack and explore it in more detail.
Being goal oriented by nature, accepting my current state has never really been an option. Yet, there have been many people in my path who prescribe to the idea of accepting where you are right now, loving yourself and your life as it currently is, and being open to a new reality if it happens to come your way. That just sounds like being okay to be complacent to me. And it makes me think it’s an excuse for all those people who don’t want to do the work to achieve what they really want in life.
Wait a minute. Am I saying you should never be happy with your current life and should always be striving for something else?!
Yeah, that wouldn’t be very healthy, would it?
I had to dig in a little more and try to figure this out. Keep in mind, this is simply my perspective. It could be wrong (and likely is) and I’m a huge advocate of doing your own research and coming to your own conclusions in this regard. But, hey, as long as I’m sharing my perspective, let’s get into it.
I wrote an article recently about being grateful for the wrong things. The gist of this article is that maybe we should be thankful for not only what is but also what is yet to come. By being grateful for what is, we acknowledge all that has been provided for us today. By being thankful for what is yet to come, we are focusing on those specific things we expect in our life which will likely result in taking action to get us closer to those things (or that life), thereby manifesting them into existence.
You may be wondering what that article has to do with being complacent. Stick with me a minute. The word “acceptance” just feels complacent to me. It feels like a very fixed mindset (and I’m all about growth). I hear in my head comments like “You just need to accept you aren’t good at X, are never going to be X, blah, blah.” It feels like giving up or giving in. That may be a personal trigger for me as just hearing the word makes me want to challenge it.
Related Article: How to Develop A Growth Mindset for Success
Once I take a breath and step back from my own triggers, I see it as being grateful for what we have today. Accepting what you have in your life today doesn’t mean you can’t also work toward something more. If you believe in manifesting, you manifested everything in your life today so be thankful for what you produced for yourself. Even if you aren’t happy about your current situation, there is something to be learned from it, and having gratitude for what is allows you to truly experience it. What I’m saying here is the two seemingly opposing views can coexist in your life.
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Let’s try an example. Let’s say Monique is living a life that isn’t what she had hoped for. Maybe she doesn’t have the job she always wanted and maybe her relationship isn’t the best and her family has accumulated some debt that makes her feel stuck. If Monique becomes complacent and decides this is just the way her life is going to be, her actions will reflect this complacency. She’ll stay in the dead-end job and never even think about doing anything different except maybe another comparable dead-end job. She’ll stay unhappy in her relationship but not take any action to make it better. You get the idea.
If Monique is accepting what is, she looks at the situation a little differently. Her day starts with gratitude that she has a job and she strives to focus on what is good about her relationship and the rest of her life. She looks at her current state as a step in her learning process and is grateful for the learning. She accepts the current state knowing that in some way she created it. Here’s the difference, she can accept her current state and still be striving for better. She can accept the financial state AND commit to cutting expenses. She can embrace the current job situation, learn as much as possible from it, AND brush off her resume or seek ways to gain new skills in her current role. She can love her partner AND do her best to improve the relationship (or choose to leave it).
Acceptance and growth don’t have to be mutually exclusive – they can co-exist.
When we don’t accept what is, we spend so much time and energy on the future state that we miss out on all the learning and experiences of the current state. Acceptance is different than complacency in the sense that complacency results from a mindset of believing you can never have, achieve, or be any more than what you have right now. It’s an overconfidence that the current state is the optimal state. Whereas acceptance is more of a “This is where we’re at, let’s embrace it while we come up with a plan for the next steps.” It’s a realistic view of what is with both its strengths and flaws.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. What do you think about complacency, acceptance, and goal orientation?