I visited my 81 year old Mom last month in Illinois and it went much better than I expected, in fact I think it was one of the best visits we have had in recent years. The weather was perfect, in the mid-70’s with a nice breeze, we didn’t have any unpleasant tasks, like a doctor’s appointment or a funeral home visit, and Mom was feeling relatively good—we even got to Macy’s and out for lunch with her twin sister!

While all of the above contributed, I think the biggest reason our time together was so good was the practice of acceptance. Acceptance is the willingness to see things as they are, instead of how you want them to be. It is looking at the truth of a person, place, or situation without denial or resistance.

As many of you know, my Mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 11 years ago, a progressive disease that affects her energy, balance, strength, fine motor skills and cognition. She needs a lot of help with almost everything and lives in an extended care facility. Every time I see her, she has lost a little more ground, and our visits are not the same as they used to be.

But I’m not the same as I used to be either. I am certain my mindfulness practices have helped me approach our visits with a level of acceptance of what this phase of our relationship is like and how our visits will be.

There is a freedom that comes with acceptance because when you acknowledge something, you can decide what to do about it. When you don’t accept, you stay mired in the confusion, denial and struggle of wishing it was different.

There are many things in this life we cannot change and David Rico has identified five for us to accept in order to gain more happiness and freedom:

  • Everything will change and end.
  • Pain is a part of life.
  • Things don’t always go according to plan.
  • No one is loving and loyal all the time.
  • Life is not always fair.

Even though I am always sad to see my Mom’s decline every visit, my acceptance practice, (and it is practice), gives me the freedom to enjoy our visits on a different level. Instead of focusing on wishing things were different, is there is an area in your life could you practice acceptance to gain a little more freedom?

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