We read these amazing words “… and acceptance is the answer to all my problems today”. Could that possibly be true? Think of all of the ills in your world today and how acceptance applies.
I started learning the lesson of acceptance in my first five minutes in recovery. I was given a precious little pamphlet by Father Vince Collins entitled Acceptance: The Way to Serenity and Peace of Mind. I read it until it was ragged. One of my favorite passages which I have remembered for almost 50 years is this one: “An old Arab, whose tent was pitched next to a company of whirling dervishes was asked, what do you do about them? I let them whirl!” Just consider his options; he could fuss, mumble, complain, swear, scream, yell, pray, shake his fist at them, or he could accept them just the way they are. “Let them whirl!” That’s acceptance! The same goes for all external environments. Whatever occurs outside of us is subject to acceptance.
The Serenity Prayer suggests we “accept the things we cannot change”. It does seem to be the best option. Somehow, refusing to accept the things I cannot change is like banging my head against a brick wall. There is no positive outcome. It is futile, frustrating and painful. I cannot change persons, situations or circumstances—external environment. The good news is that I can change myself. The path to change involves recognition, admission, acceptance and action. Change the world and nothing happens, change myself and the world changes. In order to do that, I must be aware of my internal environment. What is going on inside me? I must identify the thoughts that create my irritation, impatience and anger.
Our anger comes from lack of acceptance. Anger starts with judgment, criticism, blame, expectations—and all other ego demands. Every fight, divorce, war, barroom brawl, and resentment starts with: “I’m right, you’re wrong, you’d better change!” Where there is no acceptance there is condemnation which creates the illusion of power and control. The price we pay for being right is our peace of mind, happiness, serenity. We can’t be right and be happy! To find happiness, we have to give up the illusion of control through acceptance and surrender.
Another recovering person and I were doing some step work this week and we came upon a really important point to consider. We both had similar experiences that involved being irritated by the behavior of a stranger. We both spoke to the person we felt irritated with in an appropriate way, thinking we could help solve a problem. We both got violent rageful reactions to our comments. Our conclusion, after thinking the situations through was this: “It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us.”  A better choice than to comment would have been to identify and correct our irritation. In other words, hit the problem where it starts—with me! This would have been a good time to say the “other” serenity prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the person I cannot change, courage to change the person I can, and wisdom to know that person is me!” These situations would have presented the perfect opportunity to say silently:” Bless him/her, change me.”
It is not just people but situations that create the need to accept as well. Just think of a list of situations that need to be accepted: health concerns, economic issues, political differences, the economy, the weather, the past, and most important: our addiction. Sometimes we change our attitude, sometimes we change our behavior. If we can’t change the external environment, we can respond to it in a healthy way. It’s not what happens, but how we handle it that makes all the difference.
So is acceptance the answer to all our problems today? If not, it is a really good starting place!
 Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition p. 417 Copyright 1976 A.A.W.S. Inc.
 ACCEPTANCE the way to Serenity and peace of mind. by Vincent P. Collins, p. 1 St. Meinrad Archabbey, Indiana. ABBEY PRESS, St.Meinrad Ind.47577
 AA 12&12 Step Ten, p.90