“Love the hand that fate deals you and play it as your own, for what could be more fitting?” – Marcus Aurelius
In the movie, “Bridge of Spies” there is a wonderful exchange that is repeated a few times during the movie, (you can see all of them via the link below).
In the final scene, James Donovan, the lawyer played by Tom Hanks turns to the accused spy, Rudolf Abel, whom he is about to hand to the Russians in exchange for a captured American pilot and asks, “You’re not worried?” to which Rudolf wryly replies, “Would it help?”
He resonated a calm acceptance but it never felt weak.
Some people confuse acceptance with passivity but it is only when we accept our reality that we can choose an appropriate response.
The alternative to acceptance is denial. Denial feeds on fear and keeps us stuck.
There are and will be many great blog posts about how to make your 2017 super-amazing and life-changing, etc. I have only one recommendation but I believe it is the foundation for any changes you wish to make or goals you want to achieve.
Take an honest personal inventory, accept what you find and be grateful for where you are.
What does that mean?
Look at your life and without labeling, shaming or judging and assess how you have been living, what you have accomplished and how you have grown.
Are you living in alignment with your values?
Are you learning from your experiences?
Are you honest with yourself and others?
Are you improving in areas you have targeted?
Are you living each day or just surviving?
That’s the first part.
A lot of people get stuck on this step. They start beating themselves up, worried and anxious about the things they still aren’t doing or achieving.
The typical response is to set too many goals that are too big to achieve. By February that game is over.
Or they decide to blame. They get mad at their significant other. Mad at their employer. Mad at the government. Blaming life for dealing them a bad hand.
The typical response is to become passive aggressive, guaranteeing that this year will be the same as or worse than last year.
That’s why part two is important.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the Serenity Prayer. It guides us to accept the things we cannot change and change the things we can. Acceptance is the wisdom to know the difference.
As you take your personal inventory, just say “This is happening, can I change it? Do I want to change it? Am I willing to do what it takes?” If you are honest you will recognize the answer to some things will be no. And if the answer is no, then let it go.
If the answer is yes, you now have the clarity to decide what action you are going to take and how you will begin. Notice we are not calling things good or bad. The focus is on improvement, not perfection.
Marcus Aurelius reminds us to love the hand we are dealt and make it our own. There is only one thing we control in life and that is how we respond to the circumstances we encounter. This is what sets people apart.
And that’s part three.
Be grateful for your life. Whatever things you may wish were different there is always much to appreciate. Where you are right now is the only place from which you can start to change. It is the most beautiful place you can be. It is your beginning.
As you consider the year ahead and all the unknowns, all the challenges, all the things you want to be different, try to remember that worrying won’t help.
Look closely at who you are and what you have with honesty, acceptance and gratitude then begin from this point to move forward, one step at a time.
In fact, why not make this a daily rather than an annual process? Then the new year can just be a day on the calendar and a good reason to have some fun without all the resolution angst.