Why Acceptance Isn’t Passive and How It Leads to Positive Change

Arms Wide Open

“Of course there is no formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.” ~Arthur Rubinstein

I have the opportunity to meet fantastic people through my online radio show interviews. One of those people is an Australian author whose life circumstances led her to work alongside Mother Teresa.

Among the most impactful statements my guest made was that Mother Teresa was a woman of action. The dire environment of the streets of Calcutta required the help of someone with a big heart but also with a strong will to make change happen.

When my marriage ended after nearly three years of struggle, well-meaning relatives and friends would insist that I needed to “accept” my challenge.

“If I accept what’s happening, then what do I do next?” I would ask them.

They would just shrug and say, “You’ll be fine.”

My unanswered question led to an extended time of reflection and search for what acceptance really meant. I tuned in to interviews with teachers such as Dr. Wayne Dyer and Eckhart Tolle. I read books and articles on the subject. I meditated.

Did acceptance mean that I needed to grab a pint of Chunky Monkey, plop down on the couch, tune in to a rerun of Sex and the City, and wait for the bad times to pass?

Did acceptance mean condoning hurtful behavior and abuse? Did acceptance mean to expect little of life? Did acceptance mean defeat?

My time of research and contemplation finally gave me the answers.

Acceptance releases the power that your life circumstances have over you. When things don’t go your way, you don’t become paralyzed by negative emotions such as anger, fear, resentment, or regret.

Acceptance isn’t the opposite of caring. You may still care about your challenges and be invested in finding ways to overcome them. However, you won’t spend every moment thinking about what’s wrong in your life.

Acceptance helps you cope with menial struggles. An attitude of acceptance will allow you to deal with your judgmental aunt during Thanksgiving dinner, with a knee injury during your morning run, or with non-stop rain during your weeklong summer vacation.

Acceptance helps you deal with life-changing obstacles. Accepting what is will give you the power to overcome the negative emotional effects of physical illness, joblessness, abandonment, betrayal, addiction, and loss.

Acceptance nullifies judgment. By choosing acceptance, you remind yourself that what’s happening in your life is not good or bad, fair or unfair. It just is.

Acceptance is an act of trust. When you accept your current situation, you let go and know that if you continue aligning yourself with the truth, you will be guided to where you need to be.

Acceptance is focusing on the underlying opportunities. When you accept a challenge, you view it as part of the universe’s master plan to lead you to a fulfilled and meaningful life. You start noticing the blessings embedded in your misfortune.

And the most significant lesson I learned:

Acceptance is a training ground for action. When you accept your current circumstances and stop focusing on what you don’t like or what isn’t working, you clear your mind to receive intuitive messages that will lead you to positive action.

Once I understood the concept of acceptance, I was able to implement it in my life. I used my challenge as a springboard to follow my true calling.

One of the blessings that I received as a result of accepting my situation was my initiative to host an inspirational online radio show. My show allowed me to meet the author who worked with Mother Teresa.

Life has come full circle.

So, yes, “It is what it is,” but as the proverb says, “It’ll become what you make of it.” Accept your life challenges knowing that acceptance is the first and necessary step to enter a place of happiness.

And if you’re tempted to succumb to apathy in the midst of a challenge, remember the words of Mother Teresa:

“There should be less talk; a preaching point is not a meeting point. What do you do then? Take a broom and clean someone’s house. That says enough.”

Photo by kreezzalee

About Cloris Kylie Stock

Cloris Kylie, Marketing MBA, helps entrepreneurs to attract the right clients so that they skyrocket their impact and revenue! A sought-after speaker, trainer, and author, Cloris has been featured on various television and radio shows, including the #1 podcast for entrepreneurs, "Entrepreneur On Fire." Cloris's articles have been published on websites with millions of followers. Visit her website here

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  • Hi Cloris, I loved reading your article. I think acceptance and forgiving are things all of us have struggled with at some point. It’s a real shame that acceptance is bracketed in the same group as not caring. You can still disagree or feel angry about a situation, but not accepting it is almost saying, I’m going to let this ‘thing’ overtake my life.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Carrie Hall

    loved it! just one thought; mother TERESA.

  • ARCuncensored

    I love this so much!!!

  • Jay T.

    There is acceptance of a certain situation. When it involves the choices of others, it is their free will that you accept, without judgement. When it involves other things like jobs, careers, traffic (you get the idea), you do put your best effort into but yet find peace with the outcome. This was a very good article. Thank you.

  • Pamela @ Zesty Mom

    I love this! “It’ll become what you make of it” is so much more powerful and hopeful. Acceptance isn’t the same as resignation. It merely allows us to quit wasting energy fighting reality and let ourselves open to action. Thanks 🙂

  • Thank you for your comment, Pamela. So glad to know the article resonated with you! Stay in touch via FB or Twitter 🙂

  • Thank you, Jay! I appreciate your words. I look forward to your input on my blog articles and future Tiny Buddha articles!

  • Thank you! Sending all the best to you!

  • Carrie, you are right! I will make the correction when I post it on my blog. Thank you!

  • Thank you, Claire, for your insightful comment! Look forward to your feedback on my blog and future articles. Blessings.

  • Matt

    Hmm, although in other thought-communities, there is criticism of Mother Teresa and her actions. Not that this has anything to do with the article, it just jumped into my mind while reading the introduction.

  • No problem — have a lovely weekend.

  • Matt, I hope the message still resonated with you. Thank you for reading!

  • lv2terp

    Great message, I love when you said “Acceptance nullifies judgment. By choosing acceptance, you remind
    yourself that what’s happening in your life is not good or bad, fair or
    unfair. It just is”. Thank you for sharing your insight!

  • Thank you! So glad to hear my words resonated with you 🙂 Have a great weekend, and keep in touch via FB!

  • Faith Antion

    Cloris – This post is very timely for me. I’ve struggled with the concept of acceptance for the very reasons you’ve mentioned; I’ve always feared that acceptance meant passivity and submission. In situations of trauma and abuse, these are very scary concepts. Your writing on acceptance as a foundation for positive change has given me an entirely new and comforting understanding of the concept. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Faith, I’m so happy to hear the article reached you at the right time! Your words mean a lot to me! Please keep in touch via FB or Twitter. Blessings…

  • Subramanian

    Thank you!

  • Megan L

    I need to add to the thank yous :)…I am always failing the ‘acceptance’ and ‘forgiveness’ paper. So wonderfully and clearly put, Cloris. Thank you <3

  • Karen Lang

    “Acceptance nullifies judgment. By choosing acceptance, you remind yourself
    that what’s happening in your life is not good or bad, fair or unfair.
    It just is”. Thankyou for an amazing post. This is the truth to live by and albeit soooo hard to do, when I have this as my mantra, it makes me live in the present and that is all we ever have to do. Great wisdom.

  • Thank you for your comment, Karen! As we practice being present, it becomes easier, and I think it’s a learning process that continues throughout our lives. Best to you!

  • Thank you for your message, Megan! So glad you can relate. Stay in touch via FB or twitter. Blessings!

  • Thank YOU, Subramanian, for reading!

  • crys

    This article was just what I needed. Im trying to figure out some things right now. But this article has helped me to put things in perspective.

  • I’m happy to hear the article helped you, Crys. I wish you all the best as you figure what to do next. Blessings.

  • Such a powerful “flip to the script” that you bring with this post. Acceptance is a point of engagement. When life is seen clearly, it’s an impeccable use of your personal energy.

    We can personally save ourselves from so much agony right there. That moment of acceptance really gives you a chance to actively decide how you will next move in life. And not just move anywhere, but move towards the fulfillment of your heart.

    In my own life, I continually seek, practice, and sometimes need to be reminded sharply –until it is second nature, to see things as they are. Then from there, I can make creative, joyful decisions that delight my senses and invigorate my success in the helping of others.

    Mother Teresa’s active practice of change is inspiring. May we pierce below the sheen of GNP statistics, and the corporate successes of our “modern” culture, to help the large amount of people that are in distress right now; that are asking for the relief we can bring.

    I accept that challenge.


  • Jenifer Lamug

    Indeed, acceptance is a training ground for action. Like in business, if you think that your business model isn’t working anymore, then it’s time to make a change even if that calls for you to go back to zero and implement those changes.

  • Jenifer, I agree. Sometimes we think it’s “too late” to make changes, so we remain with what isn’t working. Thank you for your comment! Stay in touch via FB or Twitter!

  • Wes, what a beautifully written comment. I accept the challenge as well. Thank you, and stay in touch via FB or Twitter. Blessings.

  • Yes, absolutely! Just followed you on Twitter. Here’s me: @doubleyounity – Have a beautiful Sunday.

  • Awesome, Wes! I’ll follow you as well 🙂

  • Arun

    Thank you for this lovely piece of wisdom Cloris!
    ‘Acceptance nullifies judgment. By choosing acceptance, you remind
    yourself that what’s happening in your life is not good or bad, fair or
    unfair. It just is.’
    These lines swept away a lot of confusion that has been persisting in my head for a long time.

  • Arun, I’m so glad to hear my words helped clarify what acceptance is. Stay in touch via FB or Twitter. Blessings!

  • AnnMullen

    I get accused of being negative, but I see myself as asking myself and other how we can make this work? This won’t and that won’t. So what will?

  • Ann, thank you for reading, and for contemplating this topic. You wrote, “This won’t and that won’t.” What this tells me is that you are dedicating energy to what doesn’t work instead of what could work. Even if there’s a small possibility that something might work, focus on this. At least you’ll be on the path to achieve the change you desire. I hope this helps! Blessings.

  • Ancient Brain

    This is a wonderful post. It’s very easy to fall into the “negative feedback loop,” though, and this is backed up by the latest neuroscience. — I hope this is helpful; especially for those who search for the “why.” I’m one of those, although I try to let go (breathing out) and accept (breathing in) as much as possible…

  • Thank you for your comment! I’m passionate about understanding the role of the subconscious mind in our thoughts and behaviors. Stay in touch via FB or Twitter 🙂

  • Thanksgiving is almost here. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who read my article and commented on it. Also, thank you very much to those who connected with me via Facebook, Twitter, and my blog. Many blessings to all, and as challenges pop into your life, remember that acceptance will make space for answers to arrive.

  • guest

    @cloris_kylie:disqus I’ve been there! Letting go the pain of divorce was one of the best experiences of my life! Nothing like self-discovery to reawaken one’s senses! Is it strange to be thankful to have had such an opportunity? 🙂

    Life did come full circle for me too. After my divorce, I went to grad school and finished in about a year. I have had steady employment since.

    Nowadays, I am trying not to regret student loans. I know that finishing grad school when I did is a big part of why I have been able to consistently find steady employment. At $8.34 of interest per day, I am making payments of $800 per month on student loans. According to’s graph, if I am able to keep up this current rate of payments, I will be debt-free by late September/ early October of 2018.

    Isvara pranihana. As you say, “Acceptance is focusing on the underlying opportunities. When you accept a challenge, you view it as part of the universe’s master plan to lead you to a fulfilled and meaningful life. You start noticing the blessings embedded in your misfortune.” I am learning lots about budgeting and family that I certainly never knew before! Lol!


  • Thank you for your comment! You do sound as though you have your life in order, and you have a great attitude. Awesome! Best wishes to you, and stay in touch via FB or Twitter. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Lee

    What a great article! I find myself wanting to control every situation. I feel that if I could just make the other person “see” what they are doing wrong, things will get better. After reading this, it is about learning to let go and allowing the situation to be without emotional entanglement. I can stop fighting and allow myself to see things in a new light.

  • Lee, I really appreciate your comment! Yes, whatever you fight becomes stronger…And people will only listen to the truth when they are ready (which is usually different from the time we are ready for them to listen!) Blessings. Stay in touch via FB or Twitter!

  • Santa-san

    I have severe sleeping problems, and my therapist has tried to explain this concept of “acceptance” to me. He can’t. Not even close. I apparently need to “accept” my sleeping problems, to “move on” and supposedly get better? . No. I am not moving anywhere, until I am able to sleep. I am not moving anywhere until I have found the cause. You don’t function properly if you only get 3-4 hours of poor sleep per night, I can’t live the life I want and do the things I like because of this, no amount of “acceptance” can change that.
    If you start giving up in the face of challenge, you will continue to do so, because the brain is always looking for an easy way out. Just floating along each day “accepting” all obstacles with no emotions, hoping they will solve themselves, IS giving up.

  • Jojo Rodriguez

    God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.