7 Cliché—but Surprisingly Wise—Lessons I Learned in AA.

3. Acceptance is the answer.

The idea behind this is similar to number two. Fighting “what is” is exhausting. I used to always want things to be some way they weren’t. I wanted to be skinnier, have thicker hair, and be wealthy. I never wanted to work out regularly or dress the body I had in a more flattering way or get a second job to make more money. I just wanted it to happen automatically without effort on my part.

When I was newly sober, I joined an American Buddhist sangha (community) in NYC that was recovery-friendly. It made such a huge impact in my life to hear dharma teachers like Ajahn Sumedho say things like “Right now, it’s like this.” It was an echo of hearing “Acceptance is the answer” in the rooms of AA. It made it irrefutable.

Whatever is happening is happening—with or without my consent. I have a choice whether to accept it, but it’s still happening. There are ways to practice this in my life every day. The traffic accident that made me late for work, the relationship that isn’t working out, how a friend is annoyed at me for something I said, that change is inevitable—all require acceptance.

Resisting what is real and true never got me anywhere.

Acceptance is hard. So I work on it every day.

4. Live and let live.

This is the phrase where I learned about codependency, judgment, and minding my own business. It means I get the freedom to live my life as I choose, while allowing others to do the same. This is obviously a hot topic right now, as some states are opting to reverse a woman’s right to choosewhat happens to her own body.

As a culture, we in the United States are heading away from all of us minding our own business. If we practice live and let live, we may not agree with someone’s politics, but we still give them space to be who they are without trying to convince them to see our way of thinking. We don’t have to like everyone, but we can have enough respect for them to realize their life is their own. It requires being open-minded and tolerant of others.

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