The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
The Serenity Prayer, around for about 80 years, provides words that support, heal, and deliver courage for us to move forward another day, no matter how dark the current situation may seem. Holidays—religious holidays like Christmas and Easter or secular holidays like birthdays or Valentine’s Day—can be a time of great joy and celebration, but can also be a challenging and difficult time for many people who are alone, struggling with illness or financial pressures, encountering difficult family relationships, or dealing with overwhelmingly hectic schedules. As you move through both the joys and challenges of holidays, take a moment to consider the words of the Serenity Prayer. May they serve as a continual reminder and guide for living your life with authenticity and peace of mind.
“Spirit, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”
The serenity of acceptance; this line calls for us, in every moment, to find acceptance: acceptance of our past and a letting-go of the weight of any shame or guilt. We cannot go back and change what is behind us. Acceptance also calls upon us to recognize that the only person we can manage is ourself. We can share our thoughts, feelings, and experiences with others, but we cannot change them. And with acceptance comes peace—the serenity of being in this moment here and now.
“The courage to change the things I can”
Courage is your ability to recognize the paralysis created by fear, to step forward directly into fear, and to take responsibility for creating the change you want to see in your life. In difficult moments, or when things are not going how you envisioned or expected them to, courage is the ability to take a deep dive into your heart and ask yourself a series of questions. Who am I being that this is happening to me? What have I said or done, or not said or done, to have this be the way it is? What am I pretending not to know? What would I rather be experiencing, and what actions can I take to create that? And finally, when will I take that action*?
“And the wisdom to know the difference” (and THYSELF)
The willingness to take the time to know ourselves, to acknowledge who we are, how we feel, and to accept ourselves—this is the path to “the wisdom to know the difference.” There are many circumstances in our lives that we may not have control over and many that we do, but in both cases we can manage how we choose to respond. A willingness to know ourselves, to foster acceptance, to nurture a quiet mind, and the courage to be true to our authentic selves; the cultivation of these qualities does not allow us to predict the future but provides the fertile soil for determining who we want to be and how we choose to show up for ourselves and for others.
- Serenity and acceptance. Make a commitment to sit in quiet for at least ten minutes each day. During this time, consider where you are fighting acceptance. Where are you able to forgive yourself or another? What would you like to let go of? Is there a moment in your past (or even from yesterday) weighing you down that you can release? Practice this for seven days. Keep a journal and track what you are learning to accept and what you are letting go of. (Check out my article “Learn & Let Go” for rituals to assist you in the letting-go process.)
- Courage. Think of a current situation that is difficult for you, something you would like to be different, or feels challenging. *Have another person ask you the series of questions from above. Seek courage from within and step into the action you determined in this process. Ask the person you are working with to hold you accountable to the “by when”!
- Wisdom. Over the next week, when you encounter or come up against a difficult situation, say the Serenity Prayer to yourself. What is it in this moment that you can just accept, what do you have the power to change, and what is the truth for YOU in that moment? Determine to approach the holiday season with this practice in the forefront of your thoughts. Record the shifts that take place for you.