God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Serenity… In a Prayer
The Serenity Prayer… only 27 little words, but with such power, strength, and insight packed perfectly within.
Potentially treacherous situations––like being at work or being at home, being with my kids or with my parent, throughout my marriages and for sure during my divorces, in conversations and confrontations––this mantra, this ultimate navigational tool, can be counted on to unfailingly guide me through.
These same words have surely helped countless other alcoholics since becoming part of the AA culture around 1941. I was a bit flabbergasted when I first noticed a common thread running through every situation I held up to this formula. The thread was hiding in the part about “the courage to change the things I can.”
That thing was always me; that thing was only me.
Possibly obvious to some, it did not even register to me at first. Once it did however, I resisted.
Luckily I ultimately did absorb and comprehend the powerful concept which continues to stand the test of time and in fact is becoming a way of life. Knowing this choice is mine helps me remain calm yet powerful, two attitudes which actually go together quite well.
Philosophical author James Allen published his thoughts on serenity in 1902. He calls it the “exquisite poise of character.” Allen’s most famous publication, As A Man Thinketh, details how our thoughts create our experiences. He devotes an entire chapter to serenity, honoring those who develop it and infuse it into daily life. “The strong, calm man is always loved and revered. He is like a shade-giving tree in a thirsty land.”
As opposed to those who do not get it. “How many people we know who sour their lives, who ruin all that is sweet and beautiful by explosive tempers, who destroy their poise of character, who make bad blood,” Allen says.
By now I know plenty of both varieties. A shade-giving tree is preferable every time.
Monitoring my own thoughts is the name of the game. When I spot them veering off in the wrong direction, I attempt to promptly catch them and tell myself to “re-think that.”
In those moments, I immediately feel calmer, dare I say serene.
Allen calls serenity “one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom… the result of long and patient effort in self-control.” Once understood, he assures, we will “cease to fuss and fume and worry and grieve,” and instead remain “poised, steadfast, serene.”
Whether it’s something as vast as my sobriety or as common as a conversation with my boss, when I tap into the essence of the Serenity Prayer or the Serenity Chapter, my experience is smoother, more balanced, and more tranquil… and I feel myself getting healthier, shadier…
~ How and where do you notice serenity showing up in your life?
~ How do you develop it?
~ Can you identify specific relationships that have shifted from before the awareness of serenity until now?
In gratitude, harmony and support,