Quit the ‘S’ Word: Goodbye ‘Should’… hello ‘Radial Acceptance’!

dandelion vase

Photo taken from Kate Walters’ Eat Knit and DIY blog

As another year is nearing a close and it seems all my friends are getting married, promoted, buying a house, getting the cutest dogs. I’m feeling that in these life goals I’ve definitely…. flatlined!

The narrative of ‘I should’ is, to take Trump’s phrasing, “yuuuuuuge” and can be a big old hindrance to moving on past other people’s success noise and becoming effective at working towards creating your own success story.

When mulling over last week’s theme of loving kindess I recalled the traditional Sufi story of dandelions that was shared during my MBSR Mindfulness course. The story encourages us to embrace radial acceptance and learn to live with and even love the dandelions that may spring up before us. 



emma dandelion

Learn to Love Dandelions:

A young man named Nasreddin planted a flower garden, but when the flowers came up so did a great crop of dandelions amongst them.

Wishing to eliminate the unwanted guests, Nasreddin consulted with gardeners far and wide to rid the dandelions but none of their solutions worked.

Finally, at his wits end, Nasreddin travelled to the palace to seek the wisdom of the Royal Gardener. But alas, after hearing many suggestions Nasreddin had already tried all of the methods suggested by the kind old man. Silently they sat together for a good long while.

At last, the gardener looked at Nasreddin and said “Well then, the only thing I can suggest is that you learn to love them.”


What the Royal Gardener was suggesting was radial acceptance, that we should acknowledge the present reality rather than waste energy in fighting it. Now I’m not saying give up on your dreams and accept everything (I need me that house with the blue door!!) but to quieten the judgments and beliefs of how things ‘should be’ and instead focus on being effective and do what’s right.

quieten judgements

I know, I know…it’s easier said than done but radial acceptance can apply to literally anything. I read a great anecdote in The Mindfulness Bible by Dr Patrizia Collard about a woman who had terrible eczema and hated the time and effort it took to apply the various topical creams. When she stepped back and looked at her situation with acceptance in mind she decided to start applying her creams as a mindful practice, becoming fully present during the experience. For the woman, something she hated doing each day became a new part of her self-care regime and she no longer saw applying cream to her eczema as a burden but more of a personal treat.

The main photo used for this post is from the Eat Knit and DIY from Krista Walters. She has learned to love the dandelion gifts given to her from her daughter and has created beautiful DIY vases to hold them.

” Most people think they are weeds.  To my daughter, they are beautiful little flowers that she picks for me everywhere we go.  She presents them to me with such  pride.  She tells me in her little girl voice that she picked them for me because she loves me.”  – Kate, EatKnitDIY

To tie all these themes of loving kindness and radial acceptance up with a bow I’ll just leave this beautiful passage by Rumi here. This passage is one of my absolute favourites and I hope you enjoy reading too:




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