This is the fourth and final blog ( the first three can be found in the March archives on my website) on the Serenity Prayer. A prayer that millions of people repeat daily to help them hang on, push forward and recognize either their own present behaviors that are limiting them in their lives or impeding their desire for change. The prayer itself, “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,” can be life changing when you take it apart and study the intent behind the words.
To date, we have looked at what it takes (and what limits us) to change the things we can change as well as what’s required to accept the things we cannot change. Both areas involve our inner discovery of the way we choose to look at our own fear factors, early conditioning and life experiences. The gold nugget obtained by truly thinking about what causes us to react the way we do is an important element that can allow us to move forward toward greater understanding and control in our lives.
Now, let’s look at the last part of the poem, “the wisdom to know the difference.” Many people believe that wisdom is only acquired by living decades on the planet. I disagree. In reality it is not simply the experiences but our ‘thinking about our thinking’ behind them that can cause us to become wise beyond our years.
For example, when something happens that was out of our control we live through it but do we then use the mental energy to dissect the experience and search for the lessons learned? Many people are just relieved that they have made it through the experience and try to put it behind them. However, the residual feelings of ‘what next’ or the shock and fear from the experience just lays in wait in the emotional baggage in our minds. Negative emotions buried result in a greater fear of tomorrow as we try to wrap ourselves in a protective cocoon of control.
Similarly, when we face something that needs to be changed and we know we should do something about it – but don’t – it erodes our self confidence and enthusiasm for life. Over time, this pattern results in thinking that life is simply what it is and any attempt to change a particular course is fruitless or at least not our responsibility. That type of thinking erodes our hope for a better tomorrow. It takes both courage to change things that need to be changed and grace to accept those
things that cannot be changed to fully live.
The last part of the prayer, “having the wisdom to know the difference,” is not as elusive a concept as we may think. We all experience intuition, that inner voice or gut feeling, that little nudge that let’s us know that a certain path or decision is the way to go for now. Sometimes when we are unsure we say to others, “Let me sleep on it.” It gives our minds time to process what our intuitive sense is trying to tell us. Waking to the light of a new day the answer seems as clear as a bell. This is your internal ‘wisdom worker’ activated during sleep when the daily distractions prevents it from being fully heard.
Greater wisdom and serenity can result from every life experiences we have IF we do our own mental work to discover what the purpose and reason of them were designed to teach us. The answer is usually found by asking ourselves, ‘What is the most difficult thing to accept about the experience?’ Our lives are not random pieces of material thrown together but a beautiful tapestry of life experiences, each piece sewn together with the thread of lessons learned that create who we are at our core. To create our own unique tapestry we need to keep our eyes focused, our ears attuned and our heart open to accept what is clearly presented to us with gratitude.
Wisdom and serenity then is an accumulation of both our experiences and thoughtful reflection of them. When we get into the daily habit of doing so it results in less fear and more confidence as we face tomorrow. We realize the truth in the statement, “All is meant to be,” and we receive the ultimate compliment when someone says, “How did you get to be so wise?”
Have a great few days!