It’s a Wonderful Life

A young patient of mine talked about taking steps to accept her life as it is. Along with the many developmental challenges that young people face routinely, my patient also struggles with an addiction and an attention deficit disorder that has made completing her undergraduate education a difficult task. These struggles have put her just behind her peers in terms of development, making it hard for her to accept the learning difficulties that set her behind.

But, yesterday, something was different. For the first time, she accepted her life as it stands today. Her conversation wasn’t about “messing up” her life. Her eyes sparkled as she spoke about accepting how her life has unfolded thus far. She was excited about her upcoming graduation and about the next steps she would take to further her independence. On the one hand, her insights spoke to the routine aspects of maturing. But, there was something more special going on inside of her. She was awakening to a pure state of being. This is a state where we accurately perceive  our lives as they are today, free of regrets and distortions, wishes and hopes, or anything else that lessens our ability to accept the lives we are given.

The sparkle in her eyes came from pure being. She still has the same responsibilities today that she had yesterday, and the same challenges. But, if she stays aware of and open to what is rather than what should or could be, she will be able to cope with daily stress, future losses, and any other difficulties that come her way. From cradle to grave, accepting where we are, no matter how hard it may be, is a challenge for all human beings.

Frank Capra’s movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, speaks of the value of accepting our lives as they have unfolded, rather than how we want them to be. The movie’s main character, George Bailey, has spent his entire life giving of himself to people. But, deep inside, he longed to shake the dust off Bedford Falls, the crummy little town where he lives, to see the world, to build airfields and skyscrapers, and to build bridges a mile long. Like many people, George did not have a chance to realize his dreams. Instead, he ran a small loan company started by his father.

George saw no escape from what he perceived to be a boring life. The only satisfaction George got came from helping his family and townspeople. George’s small loan company was the only thing that prevented the rich miser Mr. Potter, of Potter Savings and Loan, from bankrupting the entire town through the exorbitant cost of the mortgages that he provided to residents.

Things darken quickly in what seems at first to be an upbeat holiday movie. On Christmas Eve, George’s Uncle Billy loses $8000 on the way to make a bank deposit for George’s company. Potter finds the misplaced money and hides it from Uncle Billy. George realizes that he will be held responsible and sent to jail and that the company will collapse, finally allowing Potter to take over the town. Feeling that he let his family and the townspeople down, he feels he will be better off dead and contemplates suicide.

Just when George is about to jump off a bridge, the angel Clarence appears to save George’s life. Clarence shows George the worth of his life as it stands today. What is Clarence’s role to George meant to show us?

By accepting where you are at right now, you open the door to the particular beauty of your own life journey. George’s worth in life was embedded in the role he played in the lives of the people of Bedford Falls. He couldn’t see this, because he could not accept how his life had unfolded.

Acceptance points us to our true living purpose. Your true purpose resides in the facts of your life, rather than in your achievements or hopes and dreams. I discovered long ago that the dream of my youth to become an opera singer was not in my cards, so to speak. If I had spent most of my life bemoaning this loss, I would have missed the clues as to my living direction and life’s true worth that was contained in the actual things that happened to me.

No matter what has happened in the past or is going on for us right now, there is always worth and value to the lives that we have led thus far. There are many changes and losses in our lives that challenge our ability to accept and value the life we have today. Loss of children and other family members, passing of friends, downward turns in job, revenue, health, and relationship, and disappointments in how our lives have turned out keep us stuck in the past or lost in future dreams. This steers us away from valuing the lives that we have right now.

It is a wonderful life, when we accept our lives fully. Some of you have lost jobs and can’t find another, or you may be grieving the passing of loved ones, and all of us are disappointed that some of our closely held dreams may never be fulfilled. Still to find your true living purpose, you have to agree to how your life has unfolded. You have to believe, as my young patient said, that you are exactly where you should be, given the particular lessons and purpose of your life journey.

There are three fears that people often have when it comes to accepting their lives that are misconceptions. These include:

    1. Fear of losing hopes and dreams. When you accept your life, you have enough courage to look closely at its details. Possibilities reside in the lessons of  life rather than hopes and dreams. Acceptance opens you to these possibilities.
    2. Fear of passive resignation. Acceptance is not passive resignation. Acceptance is an active acknowledgement of what is. Rather than spend your time longing for what was lost or may never be, as George Bailey did, acceptance helps you to get on with your life. Acceptance is life-affirming.
    3. Fear of true fulfillment. This one might sound the strangest to you. Fulfillment for many people is scripted in their imaginations rather than reality. Acceptance opens you to the fulfillment you get from a way of being, rather than from satisfying goals. This type of fulfillment can never be taken away from you.

Remember, this holiday season to accept you. If you like my post today, please say so by selecting the Like icon that immediately follows this article. I welcome your thoughts, experiences, and reflections. Have an accepting day. Warmly, Deborah


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6 Responses to “It’s a Wonderful Life”

  1. avatar Amy Green says:

    What a Great article to read 1st thing this am! Thank You Dr Deborah for yet another comforting and positive blog

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Thank you so much Amy. There’s so much going on in the world and in our lives that can wear us down daily. I’m glad that the message is comforting and uplifting. Life is good. Warmly, Deborah

  2. avatar Cayley says:

    “Acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.” As long as your patient stays focused on what is important and remembers to stay grateful, I believe she is on the path towards a wonderful life! Thank you for this uplifting post, Dr. K!

  3. avatar Kathleen Dennis says:

    Thats an inspiring message Deborah!!! Self acceptance seems like self nurturing and its taken me a long time to get here but it seems a key to innate happiness. Your article reminds me that following each major crisis everything has worked out wonderfully!


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