The Greatest Life Lesson I’ve Ever Learned

Beam of light dawning on a person

This great lesson has been quietly simmering in my head for years. Now it’s time to divulge possibly the greatest lesson about relationships, happiness, wealth, success – life in general – that I’ve ever discovered.

In my Big Talk Training Course, I uncovered the secret to confident socializing, overcoming shyness, beating loneliness, and deeply connecting to people: harnessing the shadow. The shadow is a concept introduced by psychologist Carl Jung, which describes anything you avoid and prefer to not see in yourself.

Shy individuals, like my former self, are masters at suppressing their needs and avoiding their emotions. We don’t voice our opinions, say what we want, talk to people we’d like to meet, get angry, or put ourselves in situations where rejection is possible. Loners are kings of avoidance. The issue here is avoidance darkens the shadow, intensifying fear.

Have you ever been scared crap-less to give a presentation? You think about the presentation weeks before you have to give it. When the time comes to deliver it, you’re a nervous wreck at the start, but then suddenly your fear vaporizes.

Why? Because you faced your shadow and fear that would otherwise grow with avoidance. You accepted your nervousness and just worked with it.

The Solution to Most Communication Problems?

After writing Big Talk, I discovered its lessons not only apply to conversations with strangers and friends, but it solves many greater problems we all experience:

  • Family relationships perish when they have issues that everyone dreads talking about. Whether it be about an alcoholic, finances, or household chores.
  • Marriages break down because one person cannot safely address a topic bugging him or her and instead resents his or her partner for not being able to mind-read one’s needs. The person ends up exploding in a verbal out-lash after finally having had enough.
  • Companies lose billions of dollars because managers and employees are afraid to bring up that topic “we don’t talk about around here”. Also, leaders hide mistakes and cover up lessons to protect themselves in the short-term that cost the company in the long-run.

What drives this issue is a denial and rejection of what is. What solves these issues and many more – and what the greatest lesson about life I’ve ever learned – is acceptance.

We’re so use to fighting everything:

  • We criticize ourselves for not socializing, feeling tired, not making the sports team.
  • We criticize other people for not doing what we say or hurting us.
  • We feel repulsed at the government for wrong decisions, wasting money, not doing what’s best for the nation.
  • We hate it when a car breaks down, an item of ours gets stolen, the weather ruins a day out.
  • We get frustrated when we injure ourselves, catch a cold, gain fat.

The list of your tendencies to reject reality could fill a book. We are so good at non-acceptance that we create constant stress and anxiety in our lives.

The more I learn about life, the more I see the power of this most important lesson of acceptance.

Accept Your Body

For example, recently I’d beat myself up over feeling tired throughout the day. I want to be productive and know the importance of rest, but whenever a slump came over me, I felt I had to push through it because successful people get work done. People commonly think successful individuals are the hardest workers (and that maybe true), yet at the same time the happiest and successful know how to rejuvenate. I know many athletes screw up their mind and body by not allowing periods of rest during their off-season.

After reading The Twenty Minute Break, it turns out the body has hundreds of natural rhythms occurring every minute, day, year. We blink, swallow, and breathe. These are some simple rhythms most people are aware of.

One rhythm as it pertains to energy is the ultradian rhythm where the body requires 20 minutes of rest after 90 to 120 minutes of activity for peak performance. When poor rest breaks the ultradian rhythm, stress accumulates, attention deteriorates, and mistakes occur-u-rates (I had to make it rhyme).

On the visibly physical level you cause yourself grief when you don’t accept your body. An inferiority complex develops not when you think you’re less than others, but when you reject yourself.

The little girl in this video has learned to love everything that exists about herself and her world. Perhaps you can learn from her?

Accept Your Mind

Here’s another example. I use to get frustrated at people’s defensive behaviors. I devised an exercise training program for a loved one which went untouched. Each time this person became defensive about not doing the program.

Most people fight defensiveness, which compounds the tension because what you resist tends to persist. I could have fought the behavior, but instead accepted it, got curious about it, and worked with it.

Defensiveness is a protective mechanism for the mind. When the ego feels threatened, it defends itself. It’d be silly to deny humans unconscious techniques for survival.

There’s a lot going on in the mind and body and world that if you understood it, you’d slap yourself silly for not accepting it. You save so much energy by working with people’s (and your own) conscious and unconscious behaviors.

Life becomes easy when you accept what occurs. You stop beating yourself up, you stop judging and criticizing others, and you stop the massive levels of anxiety and stress that fill life.

Lady meditating with dark clouds nearby
You can’t stop the darkness of life so be mindful of it.

The predictable response my clients and subscribers use to argue against acceptance is “but I don’t want to approve or put up with this problem”. You may think acceptance is agreement or approval of a problem yet that’s completely wrong. Acceptance is an acknowledgment and willingness to work with what is. It’s a belief something is true (not right, healthy, or wise).

Go about your week and I want you to cultivate a mindfulness of what you fight. Become aware of your resistance to reality, but don’t beat yourself up over it because that’s the problem of non-acceptance! Observe what occurs, accept what occurs, be curious about what occurs, then you can change what occurs.

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  • 😉 Its a good thing i started my day by reading this. Its fine stuff you write. Keep them coming.

  • Hi Josh i like your articles you are the man! waw what a wonderful man you are.

  • your articles are like a charger to restart. THNX 😛

  • Thank you Joshua for this article. Your website looks really great! Love the design.

    I have had the same qualities than you – was being defensive, shy, very self-critical, judging, demanding, verifying and so on. Since the life is a big mirror then all of us have been faced with circumstances and people who bring out in us those qualities that can be changed, if we (our lower mind) allows it. It is our purpose in this life to overcome all these qualities to experience the duality of our self and life. When we become aware, after our wish to change, that there is another way to behave, another way to think and feel, that we are not the robots who have been installed unchangeable programs, we can start to really be honest with ourselves and see in everything our part and drop blaming and judging. We will become responsible for our actions, we will start to be more kind, accepting us in a deeper level, we start to melt our ego self and to grow, to remember how it is to be human.

    For me it took about 2 years. As I have learned that there is 2 ways to learn. First is through pain and suffering (what most of us chooses) and I was no exception although I was also using the other method, I was guided always to seek the appropriate knowledge to start living the pleasant way. We have to accept that we are the co-creators of our lives and that our purpose here is not just to become rich in a hard way, pushing ourselves but to learn our lessons and still enjoy the life no matter what 🙂

  • 🙂 that article is life tells of what people don’t like talking about. thanks

  • You’re so right! Thanks for reminding me what i unfortunately forgotten about: acceptance 🙂

  • Hi
    Your articles are always very thought provocative, superb but this article about accceptance puts me in doubt. Why should we accept circumstances when we say that destiny is in our hands. With all talk of law of attraction where we are told we can attract any circumstances by visualing and the universe will grant whatever we want then why accept?

  • Yes great read! thanks for dedicating your time to writing these very useful articles. It’s great to know we all share common thoughts and fears. I’ve been a subscriber for about 4 years now and have found this to be an amazing source for work and lilfe struggles and obsticales. When faced with fear, I ask myself ‘okay what the worst that can happen’ and it usually turns out not to be so bad so I go for it and if it does turn out to be the worst I laugh about it cause I already imagined it would happen and if something good comes out of it then its a wonderful surprise! = )

  • Yesenia M California
    May 26, 2010 1:43 am


    I have been getting your emails for quite sometime now & they are always so inspiring ! Your positive outlook on life and everything in general is just so up lifting ! Thank you so much for all your gr8 emails ! The best part of all of this is, you share your thoughts w/ us all !

  • This is powerful. I realize how perfect life can be if I just accept what it brings. I’ve had my share of problems but I feel I now have their answer. Thanks for such a great help.

  • Kashmira, your understanding of acceptance is “I’m putting up with this”. That’s not what I mean. Read this again:

    The predictable response my clients and subscribers use to argue against acceptance is “but I don’t want to approve or put up with this problem”. You may think acceptance is agreement or approval of a problem yet that’s completely wrong. Acceptance is an acknowledgment and willingness to work with what is. It’s a belief something is true (not right, healthy, or wise).

    You can accept childhood abuse for what it is, but no way does that mean you want someone to abuse you.

    I believe once you accept something, you greatly take away its power over you – not the other way around. You cannot change something until you accept it.

  • You have a gift for identifying the real obstacles we place in our own path.

  • Wowis d word!!! Joshua dis is big nd i luv it nd u.

  • Josh many thanks, sure many times have shyed away from a problem which has constantly affected my life since 2004 to date. Now I’ve learned to accept it and then look way forward for a meaningful solution. Thanks big Josh, helping me, God bless u!

  • you know what! I got astonished when I read you opinion since it is near to mine , I found the article very charging to hit the road for a better veiw of life than before. I agree with you totaly . hoping to share thoughts and ideas in the near future.

  • Hi Josh,

    Just started my day and 1st thing I prayed is to accept what I have now whether a problem with persistant thinking and positive action, it is working just got a positive solution to a problem thanks much walking with me in this life.Uganda

  • Hi Josh!

    You’re a gifted person about life-changing views! Nice article aside from being good looking yourself 😆

  • hi! kuya josh ….I like your article….thank you so much for sending me …love you kuya…

  • annarosemary
    July 3, 2010 4:34 am

    i cant believe my eyes…..the talk is so awesome
    something new has been created in my life.thanks

  • I can relate to you, itz life. We always resist, we fight ourselves rather than situations

  • […] Big Talk readers know the importance of acceptance in acknowledging the reality of a problem. Acceptance means you humbly acknowledge your limited willpower, the degree you influence the problem, and the […]

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