If I could define enlightenment briefly I would say it is the quiet acceptance of what is. -Wayne Dyer
If there is any one thing that I have learned with age, it is that most frustration is borne of dwelling on things over which we have little or no control. We feel as if we're banging our head against the wall and nothing is changing. Why does this occur?
We tend to have expectations of other people, yet we usually have no control over them. When I find myself frustrated, my first question to myself is, "What were my expectations here?" Expectations are what we think "should be." My next question is, "How can I release my expectations?" For if I have no control over the situation, it does me no good to dwell on the outcome.
Wayne Dyer defined enlightenment as the acceptance of "what is." The opposite of "what is" is "what should be," which is a judgment of sorts. I have decided that the current situation is unacceptable and that I have a better way, which is ego trying to have some control.
I hear "should be" often from my kids, my co-workers, and from people in the street:
"Our employer should pay us more money."
"The government should provide free health care."
"My parents should give me what I want."
"'They' should do something about this!" (Who are "They?")
"Should be" is just another way of saying, "I deserve" something. In fact, if I deserve it, I demand it. And if I don't have my demands met, I will throw a tantrum. Frustration.
In a more perfect world, all of our wants would be fulfilled and there would be no lack; however, as long as we're in this physical world, that will never be fully realized.
Recognizing that we will not have all of the desires of our ego is a step toward enlightenment. We can let go of our desires and judgments and work on acceptance. As the Rolling Stones said,
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need
Acceptance does not mean we're giving up; to the contrary, we can define those areas over which we do have control (our attitude and behavior) and focus our energies there. Acceptance is surrender without giving up. We surrender to a more loving way. We accept the world is already as it should be, and we change how we see and respond to the world.
The wonderful thing is that as more people arrive at acceptance and work on changing how they see and respond to the world, the world changes. This is why Gandhi instructed us to be the change we want to see in the world.
When we live in "should be," we delay happiness until our demands are met. In acceptance, all is already as it should be. Acceptance is a wonderful place to dwell, and we find happiness there.