Have you heard of “The Great Resignation?” The phrase is commonly used in the business sector today to reference the vast number of people resigning from their jobs. Many are moving around or out of the workforce and numerous companies are experiencing mass exodus. The reference makes sense.
But when I first saw this expression, my interpretation was quite different. I thought how perfectly “The Great Resignation” describes this current time in which we are living.
“Between stimulus and response there’s a space. In that space lies our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”Viktor Frankl, MD
Author Man’s Search for Meaning;
Neurologist, Holocaust Survivor
The secondary definition of resignation is “the acceptance of something undesirable, but inevitable.” In a way, haven’t we all resigned to accepting uncertainty, change, rules, tragedy, cancellations and separation as part of everyday life? Haven’t we stopped overreacting to every piece of alarming news and learned to ebb and flow more with the tides?
Some may get a twinge of anger or rebellion at the thought of resigning to life’s circumstances, but if you think about it, isn’t that what mindfulness and meditation are all about? Living in the here and now, accepting things for what they are, not worrying about the past or fretting for the future.
Master practitioners would say living in the moment and working towards a mindset of acceptance is part of evolving towards inner peace and greater happiness. Mindfulness isn’t about trying to be a certain way or change anything, says Calm’s Tamara Levitt. “It’s a practice of turning towards ourselves, listening and accepting whatever is happening in the moment. In a sense, it’s becoming our own best friend so we can support ourselves through whatever is happening in our lives, no matter how hard, disappointing or scary it feels.”
An important step is becoming aware of the space between stimulus and response, as Dr. Frankl’s quote so eloquently states, and knowing that therein lies the power of choice. Am I going to get angry or sad and let all that is happening ruin my day or life, or am I going to choose to accept ‘what is’ and move forward peacefully?
Who benefits the most when we choose acceptance? We do, of course, and “sweet resignation” describes the calm that sets in when you pause, take a deep breath, choose acceptance and move forward with peace.
Don’t get me wrong, we all deserve to express the full spectrum of emotions that accompany the trauma we’ve lived through. Over the past two years, there has been unimaginable loss, change and illness. We deserve to scream, cry and stomp our feet. It isn’t fair. But with every moment we spend doing that, we miss the moments that are right in front of us.
Acceptance may feel like giving up or giving in, but it’s not, and it doesn’t mean you like, agree with or support what’s going on. It simply means that you are choosing not to live in pain, anguish or desire for things that are out of your control.
We all wonder why so much is happening at one time. Is there a greater force pushing us towards acceptance, so that we all grow and evolve collectively?
A 2021 Pew Research Center study asked over 5,200 Americans this question: Why do terrible things happen to people? 35 percent saw suffering as random and inescapable, yet, only four percent saw suffering as an opportunity for growth and appreciation. It would be nice if that second percentage was higher.
More and more often, I find myself reacting to bad news as if it were just another day in time. There are no strong emotions, mostly awe and disbelief at yet another thing. It does seem strange to me that while many happenings seem unrelated, they often have a ripple effect that ties us all together.
In putting this issue together, we had three contributors with loved ones in the hospital. Days before deadline, one of our own team was in the hospital with their spouse, and I received word from a family member of a tumor diagnosis. Earlier this week, we woke to the sad news that Carlos Marin of Il Divo passed from COVID complications at 53. The group holds a special place from our 2005 Italian wedding, and my husband and I were looking forward to seeing them in February. The same day, I received my first invitation to the Palm Springs International Film Festival Gala only to wake the next day to its cancellation.
This is merely one week in time and a familiar story to others. Can you relate? In the past, these events might have sent me spiraling downward. Instead, I simply return to my mat, close my eyes, take a deep breath and send love and compassion to those most closely affected.
This, my friends, is what I call sweet resignation.