“Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be.” ~Sonia Ricotti
I’m on an old bus in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, where I’m staying on a three-month tourist visa. I look through the window at the streets, dirty beyond belief.
Thick dust in the air mixes with the pollution of exhaust fumes; I see men spitting on pavements and small children with greasy hair roaming the streets in search of people kind enough to give a few coins.
I witness dirty stray dogs that look like they have rabies, mingling in the crowd; all shops look the same—small, dirty, and grey.
I resisted it all during the first month of my stay, but this resistance only created misery. Why on earth do I always choose the road less travelled and not stick to the touristy spots, where I could remain blissfully unaware of the reality of Nepal?
I know the answer to this question; I always knew it. The universe is trying to teach me a lesson of acceptance and non-resistance. I couldn’t learn the lesson as long as I viewed life in Nepal in a judgmental way.
As soon as I eased into the country and became willing to view it without judgment, a whole new world opened up before my eyes.
I suddenly saw another side of Nepal: I noticed dirty yet adorable, happy children chasing kites on the green grass plot near the street; I noticed a mother sitting on the road and swinging her child in a loving way; I saw white broad smiles in tanned faces.
What’s most important, I felt the unity these people experience because they share this unique way of life. Brotherly love is in full swing here, and in India, but nothing of that sort I witnessed in the west.
I felt the relief people feel to shut away the dust and pollution and enter a peaceful atmosphere of a café to enjoy a latte. I also felt the home-feeling people get sitting on roadsides, sipping over-sweetened milk teas.
This is what they know and this is what they choose to experience—who am I to judge all this?
This experience of opening up taught me the importance of non-resistance. When you’re observing everything without judgment and accepting things as they are, you feel completely at peace with yourself and experience real happiness within.
Many people don’t learn this lesson all their lives, like those stuck in unpleasant circumstances they hate. Until they learn this lesson, they will keep being stuck.
In India, where I currently live, many expats are stuck. They look shabby, they’re often drunk, and they complain about how appalling the life in India is, and yet they keep living here. Many of them hate the culture, and all their lives consist of resisting the way things are.
How Acceptance Helped Me Move to a Country That’s Perfect for Me
I know it’s horrible to be stuck somewhere you dislike and be unable to move on. However, this happens when we resist our circumstances. As soon as we wholeheartedly accept them, the door opens for a change, because acceptance dissolves the limited mindset that prevents us from seeing opportunities.
When I moved to England from Lithuania, my home country, I got stuck in a horrible town with factories and nothing to do in my spare time except shop in soul-less shopping centers.
What kept me stuck there was my studies and later a horrible job, which gave me a steady paycheck. I disliked the job, yet I felt comfortable. I was afraid to quit it because I didn’t know if I could find a better one.
I struggled with these surroundings and I hated them with all my heart. However, when I started reading self-help books, I got convinced that I was where I was because my mindset had attracted me there, and through my resistance I had gotten myself more stuck.
As I explained before, resistance limited my understanding of the world. I was unwilling to see the positive side of things, and thus I couldn’t spot any opportunities that would have shown me a way out.
When I realized this, I changed my strategy. I started accepting my situation instead of resisting it. Instead of thinking about how horrible the town was, I tried to be neutral about it, so I wouldn’t channel negative emotions into the situation and thus get more stuck.
I also decided to channel the emotions of happiness and joy into London, the city I loved, and visited whenever I had time and money.
Whenever a negative emotion or thought would arise about the town I lived in, I reminded myself that when my mindset changed—when I became more positive and open—I would more easily find a way to move.
My neutral attitude toward the town I lived in gradually made me see a more balanced view of it and eventually, appreciate the positive aspects. I noticed, for example, that the town had beautiful parks and ponds, and that some people living there were interesting and kind.
Developing understanding and acceptance opened the doors for a change.
As I became more open-minded and happier, I started noticing and acting on new opportunities. For example, I came across information about how to start my own business and thus acted on it.
Within a year or so of this change of mind, I moved to London, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
This non-resisting attitude made me dissolve some of the limits of my mind and thus I became more intuitive. This intuition eventually led me to the country where I felt most at home—India.
If I had never learned this lesson of non-resistance, I would probably still be stuck in that horrible town, cursing my situation to this day.
Wherever you are and whatever you experience, try to be at peace with it. If it’s hard to think positively about your situation, at least don’t focus on the negatives, and instead focus on something you’d like to experience.
It may help to make a list of things you’re grateful for and the positive aspects of whatever you resist. Focus on those aspects completely, and soon your mind will become more positive and more accepting of your present circumstances.
This shift in focus will eventually open the door to circumstances that are more empowering and positive.
Photo by Courtney Carmody