Living well in this day and age is not easy, in spite of the advancement of modern technology. Life itself is complicated and challenging; living well requires the wisdom of knowing self and others in order to live a happy and meaningful life.
A happy and meaningful life is forever bubbling with activities. It involves activities of self, as well as activities with others around you. In other words, activities become the raw materials of living well. However, these activities, more often than not, may cause physical, emotional, and psychological problems not just in self, but also in others through actions and interactions. Knowing yourself—who you really are, and not who you wish your were or who you want to become—holds the key to the art of living well.
Knowing yourself means self-acceptance, as well as acceptance of others.
Self-acceptance is not just "liking" yourself: essentially, it means you care "less" about what others may think of you, but "more" about accepting yourself as who and what you really are. If there are aspects that you don't like about yourself, and you are willing to change them for the better, then it is something else.
Self-acceptance is unconditional acceptance of self, which is showing an intent to accomplish the goal you have set your mind to achieve, but without assessing or rating yourself based on what others may perceive you. In other words, the focus is on the intent and the effort, rather than on the outcome.
Conditional self-acceptance, on the other hand, is feeling "good" about yourself when you have reached the goal you have set in your mind. That is to say, it is your "good" feelings, thoughts, or actions that make you accept yourself. But that attitude of self-acceptance is conditional in that it is based upon your feeling "good" about yourself. In other words, if you fail to reach that goal, you cannot and will not be totally accepting yourself.
Knowing yourself means understanding that your Creator has created you for who you are and what you are. Your worth lies within yourself, just as Ann Frank in "The Diary of Ann Frank" said, "Human worth does not lie in riches or power, but in character or goodness." If you believe in the goodness in yourself, you will have unconditional self-acceptance. More importantly, you will also know how to treat another individual you encounter in your life: if you can totally accept yourself for who and what you are, you will also learn how to accept another individual for who and what he or she is. Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, once said that the key to instantly and successfully relating to people of different cultures, religions, and backgrounds is knowing that all your fellow human beings have the same desire to be happy and to avoid suffering, just like yourself. In other words, if you can accept yourself for who and what you are, however imperfect you may be, you will also learn how to accept other individuals for who and what they are in spite of their imperfections. It is all about acceptance!
Indeed, self-acceptance and acceptance of others may remove many obstacles in life that are caused by difficult human relationships and problematic interactions. Have the wisdom to know that in any conflict or interaction with others, your response naturally should become a reflection of your loving-kindness, rather than an aggressive reaction. Your world would be much better off if you have self-acceptance and acceptance of others.
If you can accept yourself as who you are, maybe you can also accept others as who they are. After all, nobody is perfect. Acceptance of anything in life holds the key to becoming a better and happier you, and just live as if everything is a miracle.
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau