RockIt Career Consultation Services
There was a funny episode of Seinfeld in which every time George Costanza’s father would get worked up, he’d throw his head back, lift his hands in the air, and shout, “Serenity now!” Afterwards, he’d bring his hands down, lower his head, and sigh. He was serene. For about a minute anyways. The man was high strung by nature.
Positive affirmations can be effective, if done right. An even better strategy, however, is to have a system by which to live so that serenity (that is, you are calm and have low stress) comes naturally. No more “Serenity now!” exclamations. You’ll just live it out.
The best system I know is probably one each and every one of you reading this already knows.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Let’s pick this little poem apart to understand what it means.
Accept the Things I Cannot Change . . .
It’s decidedly unhealthy, both mentally and physically, to be worried or stressed or angry about something that is totally outside of our control. Yet, at some point, we all do it. It’s literally all I see on social media. Everyone is either outraged or in fear of things they have little or no power over. What do you see on the local and national news every evening? Things that terrify you or get you upset. Very few of us stop and think, “You know, this really doesn’t affect me, maybe I should calm down.”
Instead, we become addicted to these emotions. They are eating up all our time and energy – resources of which we are in short supply. We also feel powerless and hopeless, which makes us even less inclined to act on things that directly impact us.
So, the next time you’re fretting about who our current President is or the fate of our favorite sports team or even something happening at work that doesn’t involve you, stop and give it some thought. Ask yourself, “Is this something I can change?” If it isn’t, then it’s probably time to stop getting upset by it and accept it for what it is. If you learn to live and adapt to things you don’t control, you’ll have the energy and time for what’s next.
The Courage to Change the Things I Can . . .
While there are a whole bunch of things that are outside of our control, there’s plenty of things within our power to change. The key is realizing that these are things you can change and then having the gumption to change them. Change is hard, but if something isn’t right in your life, change must happen.
When you feel like there are people in your life who are bringing you down instead of lifting you up, you can stop being around them so much. Rather than grumble that one of your co-workers was promoted over you, speak up for yourself if you’re deserving of a raise or promotion. If you’re missing a skill that would lead to a better career, get some training and practice what you learned. If you feel stressed about work getting in the way of the time you’d like to spend with your family, reprioritize or schedule your days better. Either that or you also have the power to change your job to something that aligns better to what you need.
These are just a few examples of what’s possible. Observe your life and see what is in it that you don’t like and, if it’s something you have control over, plan to act towards the change you want to see.
Now for the final step.
And the Wisdom to Know the Difference
Most of us spend a majority of our time and effort on the wrong things. Then we wonder why we’re so frustrated and why we haven’t gotten as far in life as we expected.
We can’t create world peace or end poverty on our own, but we can contribute to a charity that feeds the local homeless. We can’t make a person become something he or she is not, but we can either adapt to the person or work around them. We can’t make others value us more unless we do something to make ourselves more valuable. We can’t make others love and show mercy, but we can show love and be merciful.
We can’t change the world. We can’t even change our neighbor. But we can change ourselves, thereby making the world a better place and our lives more whole. With wisdom to realize there’s a difference between what we cannot change and what we can, and acting upon this wisdom, we can feel serenity now.
If we want to.