i believe that this question generates a huge degree of variation in answers. i've learned to live with a lot. have learned to modify my life, avoiding the things that really bother my body, especially if they are things i don't mind to give up. but a few i wish i didn't have to give up. but i like being in lower pain in my day to day life, so i've mostly accepted the compromises. still there is a part of me that believes i should still strive to have as much as possible, do as much as possible. so for me, its kind of an emotional / mental balancing act.
my current rheumy, when we were discussing my success on methylpred dose packs, said i should feel like that most of the time, and if not, then we should be talking other drugs. but i never feel as good as when i've been on the pred. but since i had to deal with all of this without (antiinflammatory) drugs for a dozen years prior to finally finding a rheumy who would dx and treat me, i've learned to accept a certain level of pain and disfunction. i've learned how to accommodate so i can live my life day to day pretty well for large quantities of time. the only time it becomes a huge problem is when i go through a flare that lasts months or longer and then i'm not so sure.
i've been to lots of doctors (and PTs and chiros) and still have a lot of different doctors. and each has different beliefs in what i should expect regarding pain and what i should expect out of life regarding what i can do and what i "need" to just let go. i do appreciate those doctors that are motivated to make me as pain free and functional as possible. those who seem to admire how hard i work at this. vs those that think i need to just learn better to "accept my lot in life".
so i really think it depends on what each of us thinks. i don't think any of us can put ourselves in each others' shoes. we each need to feel as happy as possible and as satisfied with life as possible. and that's going to mean different things to different people. some people are very accepting of their circumstances. some always strive for more / better.
i tend to go between the two. trying my best to accept the way things are. but always holding out hope and striving for more. so while i try to accept what is, i also try to do as much for myself as i can: exploring diet, supplements, various drugs, exercise, acupunture, chiro, cortisone and triggerpoint injections, PT, etc. while i'll never give up trying to have less pain and more function, i also try to accept where things currently are. but just because we accept something doesn't mean we don't keep trying for better.
so maybe i don't so much go between the two as much as hold both thoughts in my mind at the same time: accept what is, but strive for better, at the same time.
the things i gladly avoid:
any housework that hurts me. i'm fortunate hubby can do those things.
it was tough for the few years when he had to do all the prepping of fruits and veggies as i didn't have use of my left hand due to a torn ligament. but he'd peel and chop and i'd do the rest of the cooking one handed. that thankfully finally got mostly better, as i really love being in the kitchen preparing food. i find it very therapeutic.
but doing the dishes, cleaning the bathrooms, sweeping / mopping / vacuuming / shoveling (anything that rotates the pelvis) i gladly give up.
i'd like to garden more, but hubby does such a fine job of it. and i have my little herb garden so that is manageable and keeps me happy enough. i don't really have time to do more gardening anyway, so its ok.
running, playing tennis. i used to do both, but kind of gave them up before i had to anyway. i'm satisfied with being able to walk most days and bike some as well.
sitting at the movies, in theaters, at concerts, etc.
i never really cared about those things before, so why should i care now.
the things i kinda accept :
not being able to sit except in very flat chairs (due mostly to my neck).
not being able to eat a restaurants that don't have the right chairs (we do takeout more than eat out, i'm ok with that)
only being able to walk a certain distance.
driving with ice packs everywhere i go.
not being able to swim because it irritates my SI.
the things i can't accept:
not traveling (i want to travel the world and yet mostly i can sit on a plane for about an hour and sit in a car for less time than that, but i won't give up the dream of traveling the world)
flaring badly (that's why i'm now taking pred when i flare. if taking it just a few times of years works out, we'll do that. but if i need it more, then we'll have to look into other drugs)
i'm also one to believe that we can often find solutions if we keep at it. like i have to sit quite a bit for my job. it was a real challenge. then i found this thing called a swopper chair (stool on a spring) - now, so long as i'm not in a bad flare, i can sit almost as much as i need to. it took about 8 years to solve that problem. but i finally did. or i found a flat chair i can sit on here at work, so i drag it all over campus whenever i have a meeting or teach a class no matter where on campus it is. i feel kind of silly carrying a chair around, but gotta do what one's gotta do. the swopper is too heavy to carry around or i'd do that. i do move the one i have at home from room to room. its on a rug and i just slide it across the floor. yeh, sitting is my biggest challenge most days. if only i could find a new car i could sit in as long as i can sit in my 1995 saturn with over 200,000 miles. but at least i bought a car that would last and that i can sit in, before i started having problems. thus i do feel lucky for these small things.