Acceptance is Not an Identity or Appeasement | Brian MacKenzie

Issue #22

Twenty-five years ago, I remembered being told acceptance was the answer to many problems. But, unfortunately, in many cases, it was being communicated in a way that I was to believe I was a certain way. The good news was I never accepted that I was anything. I struggled to come to grips with the actual reality of acceptance as a medium into the reality of our nature. 

I’ve learned in the last few years in working with many different individuals and groups of people that even the ones in prison aren’t necessarily the ones living in prison. I’ve experienced this myself with the varying degrees of attachments I’ve created. Each leaves me sometimes fulfilled and happy but continually frustrated or disappointed at some point. 

Each of us desires the same thing in life, and yet we ask questions of ourselves that deepen the confusion as to what this life might mean. I’ll use myself as an example. I enjoy doing risky stuff, like shark diving occasionally, riding bigger-than-normal waves, and going fast on my bike. In any of these instances, what exactly am I doing when I do these things? What are we doing when we get on a rollercoaster or scary ride? 

A: purposefully putting myself in a position that challenges my fears with an assurance that it’s safe.

So what does this have to do with what we desire? Simple, we seek happiness out of experience, objects, or people. We believe something can make us happy, whether through varying degrees of excitement or its outcome. Something will provide me with the desired effect. So what is wrong with this? In plain terms, this is, by definition, suffering. Nothing is wrong with it; this is how to suffer. 

We have fallen under the guise that something or someone is responsible for our happiness. How much money I make, my house, car, relationship, kids, etc., etc. Here is a little experiment to understand where I am going. What is the commonality in anything you believe has made you happy? What is the commonality in anything you think has made you unhappy? 


Sit with this. 


Any person, thing, or experience that has brought you joy was due to your ability to accept that person or thing was something you wanted to experience. On the other hand, you and I rejected the different experience. The most accurate definition of freedom is being outcome-independent. The more accurate description of prison is holding others, things, and experiences hostage to the notion that they are responsible for my unhappiness; I am a victim of circumstance. Imagine giving up all your power over what you have control over, in an attempt to control something you have no control over, in this case, making others (and things) responsible for your happiness and misery. 

Acceptance has never been about identity or appeasing anyone. On the contrary! It is about power. When we own that we are the ones accepting the outcomes of our circumstances, we never have to give up on who we are and never have to hold another person or thing hostage to the attachment of our outcomes. 

brian mackenzie

Brian Mackenzie is an innovator in human performance on stress adaptation and a pioneer in the development and application of custom protocols to optimize human health and performance. His clients and work have included: Ari Emanuel, William Morris Endeavor, Sheppard Mullin, Deloitte, Google, Tim Ferriss, U.S. Military (Navy, Army, Marines), Canadian Military (CANSOF), San Quentin State Prison, The UFC Performance Institute, Altis, Jon “Bones” Jones, Laird Hamilton, Tia Clair Toomey (3X CrossFit Games Champion), Rich Froning Jr. (4X CrossFit Games Champion) and many others.


This Old Dog | Emily Hightower

Issue #21   This old dog asleep by my side once warned me of a fox in the hen house in the middle of the night. Somehow I knew exactly what he was telling me….


Fully Loaded | Emily Hightower

Issue #17   12 times, she explained, exhaling smoke into the wind away from my face. That’s how many relapses with heroine she’d been through. She snuffed out her cigarette in the dirt and put…


Give and Take | Emily Hightower

Issue #15 If someone says “hi” to you, you say “hi” back. To not do that would be rude. But why? We’re socially wired to reciprocate. There’s a stress response called Tend and Befriend where…


Army of Darkness | Brian MacKenzie

Issue #14 This last week I spent three days at Pelican Bay State Prison. As some may know, I have spent some time in prisons and correctional facilities for the last several years. This started…


Projected Mirrors | Brian MacKenzie

Issue #12 Most of us have heard the term we are mirrors of each other. Although I believed I understood this analogy most of my adult life, it has come into a new light and…


Embrace The Dark | Emily Hightower

Issue #11 This week’s Solstice is an undeniable bookmark in the seasons. It’s a holiday that doesn’t require any stories or religions to understand. We’re in the darkest week of the year with the 21st…


On Discipline | Brian MacKenzie

Issue #10 This paradigm of health is entertaining if you look at how we have made it exactly that; a model. We have allowed ourselves to conveniently develop a model for something with no path….


Protocol vs. Practice | Brian MacKenzie

Issue #2 If you read my last post, I went through the stress response and how I am no stranger to it. I also suggested a few tools I use during more “busy” times when…


Travel Stress, Screens, and Balance | Brian MacKenzie

ISSUE #1 Being on the road teaching for the last few weeks has been a refreshing experience and a sobering reminder of what allostatic load means. I’ve traveled for work for more than 15 years,…