"Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to do the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." -Reinhold Niebuhr
When I was growing up, my father loved to provide me with his favorite philosophical quotes when they applied to a situation occurring in my life. In my younger years, I would roll my eyes and say something along the lines of "answer my question" or make fun of him. One of the most recurring phrases I heard, however, was the Serenity Prayer.
Difficulties in our day to day lives are inevitable. The reality is there are many situations and stressors that we can't just fix or get rid of. Sometimes change happens and we are put in discomfort that challenges us to grow. There are times that I get caught up in my anxiety, emotions, and fear.
Often, I find the Serenity Prayer repeating in my mind and never fails to calm me. I would argue that the Serenity Prayer, though short, can apply to about any problem that presents itself to you.
As I reflect now, I think my dad may not have been so annoying after all. Having the prayer as a reminder to "accept the things I cannot change,” provides a feeling of freedom and peace whenever I cannot change a situation.
At times, there are dilemmas in our days in which we know the right things to do, yet, the right thing to do isn't the most appealing. This is why the second part of the prayer requests "courage to change the things I can."
The final portion of the prayer, which always gives me chills, is the most important part to pay attention to. "And the wisdom to know the difference." Sometimes courage to change something won't help you. If your dog dies, the peace of accepting the circumstance, no made how hard, will ultimately help you.
If you have to tell a friend something you know they really won't want to hear, you need to act rather than accept. This courage to be vulnerable and take a chance at the right time is wisdom. This ability to accept that you can only change yourself is wisdom.
The serenity prayer suggests a sense of a wise temperament and how to "pick your battles." Many recovery groups, such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous), repeat this phrase each meeting as a means of providing perspective for the group members when telling their stories. I believe that these values can be applied to each and every conflict that exists in each of our days.
Next time you are stressed, angry, hurt, or having trouble making a decision, try repeating this quote to yourself. Hopefully, you will find that wisdom to know the difference.