Lesson 70: Some things you just have to accept

Published 3:10 pm Thursday, April 22, 2010

There is no formula for success except perhaps an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.

Arthur Rubinstein

I once knew a man who accidentally ran over his own daughter in their driveway. The child was killed, and her father was the cause.

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What a terrible thing to have to live with. The poor man and his wife suffered unspeakable pain, and his suffering must have been compounded immensely by guilt over his role in the tragedy. How could they possibly go on?

After years of painful reflection and soul-searching counseling sessions, they finally reached an inevitable conclusion: they simply had to accept what had happened and get on with their lives as best they could.

This is perhaps the most nightmarish scenario I can think of a parent loses a precious, innocent child, and the parent is to blame. But even in this horrific circumstance, life goes on. Even here, the sufferer moves ahead with life.

What else could he do?

Weve talked a lot about the influence you have over your own destiny, if you just take responsibility for your own life. Its true: your attitude and actions have the largest influence on the course of your life. But many things are beyond your control; you may get stuck with the consequences of events that you may not like.

Heres where your attitude your mental toughness, if you prefer comes in to play. You must accept what has happened and go forward with life, knowing that you cannot change the past; your only possible influence lies in the future.

This concept can be summed up in the words of the Serenity Prayer, commonly attributed to twentieth-century American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Regardless of how bad todays troubles are, do you know whats going to happen tomorrow? The sun will come up, and life will go on.

Excerpted from The Graduates Book of Practical Wisdom: 99 Lessons They Cant Teach in School by C. Andrew Millard, published by Morgan James Publishing, available in bookstores and online. &opy; 2008 by C. Andrew Millard; all rights reserved. For more information visit www.wisegraduate.com.