Finding Serenity

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If I could share 500 words to inspire, this is the important wisdom I'd want to pass along to others...

  • If you’ve read any of my books, you’ve read about the “Serenity Prayer.” This is a simple prayer, first used by Reinhold Niebuhr around 1934 and later given, by him, to Bill Wilson for use in Alcoholics Anonymous. This simple prayer became one of the “tools” that saved my life more than once when I was in the early days of my recovery and trying to piece my life back to together. I would recite it every day as a way to keep things in perspective and it has been a great help to me since.

    There are many times in our life when the Serenity Prayer can help. Rather than get caught up in worrying or becoming part of a (usually negative) discussion about “how bad things are,” you can apply the wise message in this simple prayer, to help you maintain a positive outlook.

    “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”

    One thing is certain, you and I cannot do much about the price of anything. ; Being upset about it will do little more than increase your stress and raise your blood pressure.

    You may not like the situation – I don’t – but you’ll be best served by accepting it as one of the things you cannot change and move onto the second part of the prayer.

    “Courage to change the things I can”

    Here’s where your power lies. There is always something you can change in any situation and difficult economic conditions are no different. Rather than “follow the herd,” and complain about the things you cannot change, use your innate abilities to change the things you can.

    To save on food, you can grow some of your food, use coupons, shop sales, use a list to eliminate impulse purchases, eat less (not a bad idea for some of us!), shop locally, eat more grains, fruits and vegetables – again, not a bad idea.

    You can always do something to cut unnecessary expenses; however, you can only do this to a point.

    My philosophy has always been to look for ways to increase my income rather than lower my standard of living. I agree with Bob Proctor when he suggests you stop trying to live on less and focus on earning more.

    “And wisdom to know the difference”

    Knowing the difference between the things you can change and those you cannot, is the key to taking charge of your own destiny and not becoming a victim to circumstances. In any situation, ask, “Is this something I can change or not?”

    Apply the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer to any challenges in your life. Accept what you cannot change, change what you can, and know the difference.

    Jim Donovan

    Proclaimed a “Happiness expert” by Fast Company magazine, Jim Donovan has delivered presentations to a wide range of diverse groups for more than 18 years. His programs provide inspiration, ideas, tools, and strategies which will help you and your organization increase performance and productivity, thus reducing turnover, absenteeism, and stress. He is a powerful thought leader who’s books and teaching have positively impacted the lives of more than a million people worldwide. Jim’s willingness to speak openly about his personal struggles and share the ideas and techniques that enabled him to radically change his life, have made him a sought after speaker and trainer for business events and meetings. Jim’s New York sense of humor, coupled with his unique life experiences allow him to connect with people from all walks of life. With more than half a million books in print in 24 countries and eighteen years as a speaker and coach, Jim Donovan is a recognized authority in the personal development industry.

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    1. M. Catlett
      M. Catlett says:

      As many 12-steppers can confirm, the Serenity Prayer is a powerful tool for change. Accepting of the universal love, being empowered by belief in the higher, means not just changing what we can – but sharing the burdens that are too heavy in faith and courage.

    2. Patrick
      Patrick says:

      That is a prayer I use when I take, or use my will. So after I say the serenity prayer, I say-thy will, not mine be done

    3. Nancy Bortz
      Nancy Bortz says:

      I too use the Serenity Prayer as a practice to keep myself in check with my emotions. I have learned to take a deep breath, and to believe and trust in a power greater than myself.

    4. anchorrock4
      anchorrock4 says:

      This is a realistic prayer since there are some things which we can change and others we cannot. What is of uttermost importance is to ask for the grace to know the difference. Ultimately, God will come through and give us the victory for whatever we are facing. Thanks for sharing.

    5. Jim Donovan
      Jim Donovan says:

      This is turning into a great thread and I’m happy to be a part of it. Thanks everyone for your comments.
      If more people understood the wisdom in this short prayer, their life would go a lot smoother.

      Many people spend too much of their time blaming and complaining about things over which they have no control or wishing things were different.

      If you accept what is, in the “now,” as Tolle wrote about extensively in his book, “Power of Now,” you gain a lot of power and are more able to see solutions that were being blocked by your not being present.

      • Kevin
        Kevin says:

        It is a good prayer. I lost a good job at the end of 2012 after being there just 4 1/2 months. Since that time my wife had a mild heart attack, my son tried to take his life, 2 weeks before Thanksgiving my son almost died from an overdose, a week later I lost my job again, my son has been in rehab for 4 months now and I make half of what I made 17 years ago. Not to mention my wife was in a bad car accident at the end of 2001 and had a spinal fusion in 2003 that failed when she fell in the ladies room at movie theater, so she’s now partially handicapped. i haven’t had any good news in my life the last 5 years.

    6. Georgina
      Georgina says:

      For some reason I opened this first today. Its just what I needed after some bad news which upset me deeply, Thank you

    7. jimsjems
      jimsjems says:

      Once one has determined what they can and cannot change, as the prayer suggests, the next question to ask is, “What’s working, what’s going right, etc. Focusing in the positive in a situation, however little it may seem, is the ONLY way out. By keeping our attention on what is working, we are activating a higher vibrational energy. This will, by virtue of the law of attraction, begin to attract more good into your life.


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