Acceptance has everything to do with simplicity, with sitting in the ordinary place, with bearing witness to the plain facts of our lives, with not just starting at the essential, but ending up there. Acceptance speaks in the gentlest voice. It commands only that we acknowledge what’s true.

— Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough, p. 127

Letting Go of Expectations

It takes a person of great maturity not to move away when someone expects something of them. Letting go of our expectations opens us to receiving. Once the urgency is gone, our partner or the people around us are much more willing to move in to fill the gap by responding and giving to us.

— Chuck Spezzano, If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love, p. 48

Wired for Story

We’re wired for story.

In a culture of scarcity and perfectionism, there’s a surprisingly simple reason we want to own, integrate, and share our stories of struggle. We do this because we feel the most alive when we’re connecting with others and being brave with our stories — it’s in our biology. The idea of storytelling has become ubiquitous. It’s a platform for everything from creative movements to marketing strategies. But the idea that we’re “wired for story” is more than a catchy phrase. Neuroeconomist Paul Zak has found that hearing a story — a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end — causes our brains to release cortisol and oxytocin. These chemicals trigger the uniquely human abilities to connect, empathize, and make meaning. Story is literally in our DNA.

— BrenĂ© Brown, Rising Strong, p.6

Loving Who They Are

Is this love or am I trying to change the person I love?

Have you tried to change your partner recently? How did you get on? Were they suitably appreciative? I imagine you didn’t get a thank-you note for your efforts. Have you tried to change your children? Were they receptive? Did it work this time? Children are willing learners, except when they don’t feel loved. Have you tried to change your parents again? After all, they’re getting older now and so they should be weaker and less able to resist your campaign. Has anyone tried to change you recently? How did you feel about that? Did you feel more loved? Are you feeling even more love for that person who wants to change you?

A common mistake in relationships is the belief that your love will change a person, eventually. You can’t love someone and want him or her to change. For a start, when you try to change people, they do not feel loved by you. If anything, they feel judged and rejected. Love does not seek to change people, because love does not find any fault in a person’s true essence. Love can help a person to grow and to bring out the best in him or her; but you will not see any of this if you do not love the person unconditionally in the first place. The paradox of love is that when you stop wanting each other to change, you are changed, and this change enables you to love each other more.

— Robert Holden, Loveability, p. 150-151

Don’t Be Afraid to Shine.

Another big obstacle to happiness arises when people start to become happier than those around them, including their families. It is very tempting to give up your happiness if you have a tribal belief that says It’s not okay to be happy when my family (husband, wife, mother, father, brother, sister) is not. Before you assume you don’t have this particular belief, ask yourself how comfortable you would be becoming a shining light of happiness in your family circle — would you downplay your happiness if you knew your tribe wouldn’t celebrate you?

Believe me when I tell you that each tribe has a very specific level of happiness it will allow its members. Some allow a very high level and support their members in achieving it. But more commonly, people run into difficulty when their happiness starts to show. After all, how come you have the right to be so happy when your sister has two autistic children, your cousin has a serious illness, your brother just got laid off, or your dad is in chronic pain from working the job that supported the family while you were growing up? And what gives you the right to be happy when your parents have stuck it out in an unhappy marriage for so many decades? Or how can you be happy when a friend you love is experiencing depression, a breakup or divorce, or is struggling to find his or her way in life?

Please look at all the ways in which you believe you have to give up, silence, or hide your happiness if people you love aren’t happy in their lives. If you believe it’s not quite okay to shine brightly unless the others you care about are shining just as brightly, you will find ways to sabotage your joy. One woman I worked with found great solace in her rewritten tribal belief: It’s reasonable to believe that everyone I love has the right to choose their level of happiness. Then she went a step further: Being happy by shining my brightest inspires others to do the same, if they choose.

— Christel Nani, Sacred Choices, p. 154-155