Life can be hard at times.  It doesn’t always go according to plan.  So, the key to happiness is to not expect the perfect life.  That isn’t happening for any of us.  Rather, the key is acceptance.  When we learn to accept life as it is, then we can effectively respond to life’s inevitable problems and enjoy its many blessings.

Let me give you a very simple example.  I have a rescue dog.  My husband and daughter gave him to me as a Mother’s Day gift many years ago.  This was not a dog for the faint of heart.  When he arrived on my doorstep, he previously had been abused and had gone through multiple owners, none of whom could manage him.

Fast forward to today, and after a lot of training and rules, the dog is a proper citizen.  He sits, stays, and heels when I walk with him.  And he has relaxed significantly.  He spends most of each day quietly sleeping on our oriental rugs (the wood floor is far too hard for his sensitive body!).  And he gets along peacefully with our cat and two bunnies.

However … he is an American Staffordshire Terrier, and this breed is very protective of their family.  As a result, anyone who walks by the house, from the mail delivery person to a lady walking a chihuahua, will upset the dog to no end.  There will be frantic barking and jumping at the windows.

Now I could get upset with the dog every time he does this, which is daily.  But American Staffordshires are “working dogs.” They aren’t lap dogs.  They like to have a job.  And he has decided that his job is to protect our family.

It is what it is.  While dogs are trainable to do certain things – heel, fetch, sit and stay – you can’t train them out of their nature.  So, my fighting against the dog’s desire to bark at every passerby is pointless.  As a result, I’ve just accepted that there will be a bit of commotion whenever we get an Amazon delivery.

My dog barking situation illustrates the challenge for all of us.  Do we accept the barking?  Or, do we get upset, fret, and say to ourselves, “Why does the dog bark?  He shouldn’t do that!”  Of course, he shouldn’t.  But he does.  And my fighting that reality it is just a waste of time.

Below are some ways to stop fighting against reality, and to accept the dog barking and all the other imperfections of life.

Accepting Other People

Have you ever been in a relationship in which the other person’s behavior was deplorable?  Of course, you have.  We’ve all been there.  And typically, in response, we think to ourselves, “Well, this person should be nicer.”  Or, “This person should be more ethical.”  And they should be!

So, then we try to reason with that person.  We try to explain why their behavior is unpleasant or improper.  And unfortunately, most of the time they just don’t care.  Talking to them is the equivalent of slamming your head against a wall.  They aren’t interested in their effect on other people.  They live inside their big pumpkin heads.

So, you have two choices.  You can accept their crummy behavior and carry on with life.  Or you can decide to stop dealing with the misbehaving person altogether.  You don’t have any other choices.  Either way, you have to accept that this person is unpleasant, and they aren’t going to change.

Once you practice acceptance in your relationships with other people, life becomes a lot simpler.  People are who they are.  And most of the time, no matter who much you pray, plead or argue, they don’t change.  So, with acceptance comes clarity.  You can choose to deal with the unpleasant person, bad behavior and all.  Or you can stop dealing with that person and have a much more pleasant life.  The choice is yours.

Accepting Situations

We all have to go through unfortunate situations in life.  Currently, we are living in a pandemic, and admittedly, it is not so great.  We are dealing with social distancing and mask wearing, challenges which we haven’t had to deal with before.

But even without the unusual circumstance of a pandemic, life inevitably tosses difficult situations our way.  Job loss.  Divorce.  Relocation.  The death of loved ones.  The question isn’t whether we will face difficult situations, but when.

The key to being happy is acceptance.  We need to accept that we occasionally will have to deal with hard situations.  Of course, accepting that fact is difficult.  It feels very unfair when our loved ones pass away.  It is challenging to lose your job and have to scramble to pay your bills.

But fighting against the unfairness of life is a waste of time.  Life sometimes can be hard and unfair.  Fighting against that fact will not change anything.

For example, I once met a lady who was diagnosed with Lupus.  When the doctor advised her of the diagnosis, she said that she felt sorry for herself for about 30 seconds.  Then she immediately jumped to the next step: What do I do now?  After her diagnosis, this brave lady proceeded to attack her illness by working with doctors and nutritionists.  She read everything that she could about the illness and today lives a healthy life.

The benefit of accepting life, instead of fighting against it, is that acceptance allows us to respond to life’s challenges more effectively.  If the lady who had Lupus had been frustrated and saddened by her diagnosis, she could have wasted a year or more living in depression.  She wouldn’t have spent that year doing everything possible to become healthy.

So, don’t fight life.  Accept other people for who they are.  Accept frustrating situations as inevitable bumps in the road of life.  Once you accept life as it is, you won’t waste your time lamenting the fact that life isn’t as it should be.  Instead, you’ll face life as it is, and you’ll be far more effective in dealing with difficult situations as they arise. (To read more about moving from acceptance to gratitude click here.)


If you would like to receive my Free E-Book, “The Confidence Course,” and sign up for my weekly newsletter, go to

More from Beliefnet and our partners