Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Follow-Up on "This or That"

I've noticed that many people confuse the word acceptance with the word approval. While it's not uncommon to see these words interchanged in common parlance, they don't mean the same thing. The latter involves a value judgment. Somebody does or does not do something and we give them the thumbs up. True acceptance, on the other hand, does not involve a valuation of the thought or action. It's merely the ability to understand what is, is.

A good example of acceptance might be how we behave towards others -- particularly close family members -- who have committed a heinous or, what we might consider, a bad act. In Christian circles, believers are taught to hate the sin, not the sinner. Many non-Christians follow this same tact, albeit with different terminology.

When a child misbehaves, the good parent doesn't stop loving the child. The parent may be quite upset at the child's words and/or actions, but the anger is not be directed toward the core being of the child her/himself.

I hope this puts the concept of contentment -- embracing the yin and yang of life -- in a better light. It's not that the contented person enjoys or relishes pain, sadness and hardship, far from it. But the contented individual accepts that pain, sadness and hardship are normal elements of life as a human being. He or she deals with these aspects as best he or she can, knowing that joy eventually will replace the sadness or pain.


  1. agreed. it's very hard to do though... accept life in its entirety. i know if my husband, son, or sister would die or be permanently crippled i would not be able to accept these things for a very, very long time, if ever... because my happiness is tied to them more securely than it is tied to even my life... not very taoist of me, perhaps, but definitely very human.

  2. When my maternal grandmother died, I was inconsolable for several weeks. Same thing when my mom died. I can't imagine the grief I will experience when my wife dies -- selfishly, I hope I go before she does!

    Still, that said, life goes on.


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