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The song has us remembering the excitement we had as kids during noisy county fairs, when all our friends were there. And you can taste the cotton candy again you had with Mom and Dad. But yet you know with sadness and a sense of loss that it’s time to leave that place with its “barkers and the colored balloons”, and you are a bit surprised at what you feel when you know leaving it is real.

If you haven’t listened to this song for a long while (or ever), crank it up and see if you can touch your own sense of loss of innocence. I wept on the first listening and on the fifth. I tried to tell my wife about it and could barely make words come out of my mouth. She patted me kindly. Then I listened a few more times and noticed feelings I hadn’t noticed before.

Appreciation. Purpose. Pride about my son’s growth. Love. I started singing it in the car. I later played it for my wife and we talked about our beautiful boy and his challenges and how we can be better parents to our son in this phase of his life.

This is acceptance work. It’s about scooping out a place that love and purpose can fill.

The Bittersweet Art Of Acceptance
The Bittersweet Art Of Acceptance

If you are having a hard time with acceptance work, consider the possibility of creating problems for yourself, just as you do in the gym. In fact you can start in the gym! As you practice on the balance board, deliberately imagine staying balanced at work as you receive demands and criticisms. As you assume a difficult Yoga posture, allow an emotional pain to come to mind that you sense you can safely lean into, and let your posture deepen your contact with it.

Outside the gym go find that picture of a loved one who has passed away and remember your feelings about that person on purpose. Write that poem about what it is like to be you. Call that friend you rarely talk to and lean in a bit more in appreciating the friendship. Acceptance is about allowing the full range of your thoughts and emotions while pursuing what is purposeful and meaningful to you.

Related: How Accepting Things You Cannot Change Makes You Finally Free To Be Yourself

The time to start working on acceptance skills is before you really need them. The time to start working on acceptance skills is now – before the icy patch on the driveway. See if that gives you a way forward.

So did you find this inspiring? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Written by: Steven C. Hayes
Originally appeared on:
Republished with permission 
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The Bittersweet Art Of Acceptance
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Dr. Steven C. Hayes

Steven C. Hayes is Nevada Foundation Professor in the Behavior Analysis program at the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada. An author of 44 books and nearly 600 scientific articles, his career has focused on an analysis of the nature of human language and cognition and the application of this to the understanding and alleviation of human suffering. He is the developer of Relational Frame Theory, an account of human higher cognition, and has guided its extension to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a popular evidence-based form of psychotherapy that uses mindfulness, acceptance, and values-based methods.View Author posts