A few years ago, I learned a valuable virtue from my dog.
Yes, I’ve heard of all the wonderful praises dogs receive from their owners, etc. We can learn patience from them simply because they’re patient with us. Dogs don’t criticize, nor do they judge us. Probably the best quality they have is the ability to love us just the way we are, despite how we see ourselves. Many jokes are shared across the Internet describing this very sentiment:
Don’t you wish you were as great as your dog thinks you are? – Honestly, you are probably pretty great, but you may not accept yourself for who you are. Self-help books aim to help us accept the way we look or behave so we can improve. They may also help to accept the reality of certain situations, especially those which are negative or undesirable. In the process of doing so we find a healthier outlook and hopefully happiness rather than trying to resist or change things.
The common definition for acceptance would be to receive that which has been given to us.
We can look at it as accepting a gift from another: a common event, yes. And very simple. But if poor vision, the loss of a loved one, giftedness, or riches prevail in your life, you must accept that reality, good or not good. And, of course, pleasant things are the easiest to accept.
To be truly accepting is to accept another’s personality traits as you would your own.
With all the different temperaments people possess, it’s often difficult to get along with those we find abrasive.
This is precisely where my metaphor comes in handy to help us realize people have their own bents and habits just like we do.
One day while playing catch with my dog, she stopped to do what dogs sometimes do. She had been running around off the leash somewhere in the acres of land in the back property. Usually she picked up on the scent of something dead and rolled in it, probably so she’d go undetected while she hunted unsuspecting prey. Other times she’d eat the dead, partially eaten animals left in the field by coyotes. At least three times that I can remember, she was skunked because she just couldn’t leave those fluffy waddling skunks alone. She also would run through the house with muddy paws if I wasn’t fast enough to catch her first.
This particular day, to my dismay, she began to cough and throw up some slimy, disgusting particles she obviously could not digest. The worst part is when she proceeds to lick it back up.
If I weren’t there to stop her, she would do just as she pleased like any other time I wasn’t present. Who am I to change her nature?
Now, while this is graphic to an extent, it’s important to understand my metaphor for what it is. I’m not saying people are this disgusting in their behaviors. Not at all. But the next time your spouse doesn’t put the seat down, forgets to put the toothpaste cap back on, or something else despite how often a request has been made, think of this:
I was so grossed out by my dog’s behavior, I caught myself telling her to stop doing what she does. Basically, I yelled at her for being a dog.
What? Yes. I did. Ha ha. Like that would stop her. She was a dog after all.
You see, I cannot stop her for being what she is as much as you can’t stop people for being who they are by nature. Acceptance is a virtue because it allows us to see people as they are and receive any oddities they possess as favorable and thus approve of those oddities. Just because others do things we would not do, doesn’t mean we need to change them. The only person you can change is you. Practice approving others. You may find a core trait that at first seemed odd, but in fact is the trait that makes that person unique.
As far as my pooch goes, now that she’s gone, among other awesome things I miss about her, I also miss the muddy paw prints she’d leave on the carpeting: a sign of life and vibrance.
4 thoughts on “Acceptance”
I’m making a comment for this old blog because I’m looking through your past work, and I never saw this one.
It reminds me of this Joseph Bruchac story we had on tape when my kids were little. He’s a Native American storyteller, so I don’t think this is actually his story. Anyway, on a chilly morning, a young boy finds a snake lying motionless on the road. He’s so cold, he can’t move. He begs the boy to pick him up and put him inside his shirt so he can warm up. The boy is hesitant, but the snake promises he won’t hurt him,and so he does it. He puts the freezing snake inside his shirt. When the snake is warm, he bites the boy. As the boy lies dying in the road, he cries, “Why did you bite me? You promised you wouldn’t hurt me.” As the snake slithers away in the morning sun, he replies,”Why did you pick me up? You knew I was a snake.”
I like the story. The more I think about it, the more familiar it seems. Thanks for sharing.