I have a problem with the ‘Ah well, that’s life’ approach to problems. I really struggle with ‘get used to it’ and ‘suck it up’. I don’t deny that there are some things that you have to get used to and work with but if humankind took that approach in dealing with every problem that it had ever encountered we would never have evolved. When the forest gave way to the savannah, we wouldn’t have found a new food supply and adapted to a different ecological niche, we would have laid down on the ground at the edge of the forest and died of starvation.

Here’s the thing, I do a lot of yoga and so I understand the concept of acceptance, I also appreciate that life is hard and that things don’t always work out as you would wish but I equally see that problems have solutions. It’s not enough to just roll over and say that’s just how it is, I’ll have to get used to it. Sometimes you need to pick up the problem and look at it, pace around it for a while, observe it from different angles. Sometimes a new perspective might be enough to create some relief but equally there may be, just possibly, something that you can do to fix the problem. There may be some kind of remedial action that can be taken. You may, heaven preserve us, be able to improve your situation, or the situation of your community, your society or even the world.

What frustrates me about ‘suck it up’ is that it’s so negative, uncreative and apathetic. It precludes the possibility that life can improve, that we, as individuals can improve, that the world can improve. Why should I suck it up if I can make it better? Why should I accept that I’m helpless against the tide of life that will forever grind me down? Why should I accept that life just isn’t fair?

The choice not to suck it up is not the same as running away or staging a revolution. Refusing to accept a problem in your marriage or an unacceptable situation at work is not the same as leaving your partner or walking out on your job. With gentleness and communication and a positive outlook solutions can be found, it all just depends on how committed you are to working through it. In fact I would go so far as to argue that sucking it up may preclude the possibility of finding a resolution. Sucking it up may leave a situation to fester until it’s too degraded to be salvageable, like ignoring the symptoms of cancer until the body is riddled with it and a cure has become impossible.

We make ‘suck it up’ sound like it’s an act of stoic heroism but what if it’s just bitter and cold. What if the alternative, taking a stand to change things and make things better, was the heroic act?  Taking the risk that you might be wrong in the hope of making things a little more right. Refusing to suck it up doesn’t have to be selfish, it doesn’t have to revolve entirely around the concept of making the world a better place for the self if the eyes are turned outwards and the needs of others are taken into account in the actions we undertake. We may even be acting on behalf of the best interests of others when we refuse to accept the way things are as the way things have to be.

We all seem to sit in bitter resentment, refusing to take the initiative to try and change anything. We hate society and yet we don’t even vote, we don’t use our voice to communicate anything, we don’t protest. We don’t research and we don’t read, we accept the information we have been given without critical thought and wonder why we are lied to. We ignore the world and we ignore the problems and we ‘suck it up’. But what if we refused? What if we tried a little harder? What if we worked to change things just a little bit? What if we at least tried to make the world a little kinder, a little less selfish, a little warmer and more forgiving? What if we didn’t suck it up?

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