Regardless of the religion you may follow, be it Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism or any other there is one prayer that speaks to an essential truth. In everyone’s life around the world we are steadily confronted with a need to make important life decisions. Those decisions can have a huge impact on our lives, our happiness, our health and yes even our wealth. In the early twentieth century Reinhold Niebuhr an American Theologian wrote a prayer that goes straight to the heart of effective and proper decision making. It actually exists in several forms but the most popular, because of its adoption by several 12 step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, is:
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference,
That is what is most commonly quoted but it then goes on as follows:
Living one day at a time
Enjoying one moment at a time
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace
taking as He did this sinful world
as it is not as I would have it
trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His will
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Even if you were to remove the religious element by replacing “Him” with whomsoever or whatsoever, the message remains loud and clear and one of the most powerful messages in our real mortal world. And you definitely do not need to be an alcoholic or drug addict to benefit from this powerful message.
We all face critical decisions every day and it is always how we handle those decisions that determine our degree of happiness and success or pain and failure. Some things we can and must change and then there are those things we just cannot change no matter how much we would like to. Making the right decisions demand that we remain or perhaps regain a state of calmness and peacefulness. Decisions made in anger are often poor decisions and lead to even worse situations and results.
You are in your car and you feel you are being hit in the rear. You become angry at whomever hit you, so in that state of anger you leave your car and go back to the vehicle that hit you. In rage you remove the driver and begin to pummel him and then it all changes when you realize that you are striking a police officer. As he over powers you and puts handcuffs on you, that is when you see that he was struck by a truck and his vehicle was pushed into yours. Extreme to be sure, but it illustrates the reality that decisions made in the absence of serenity can be very poor decisions, which is precisely why the very first thing is a request for the granting of serenity. The very best decisions are always made from a place of peaceful contemplation.
And then there is always the matter of what you can change versus those things which you have no power over and therefore cannot change. Your own behavior is one thing which you can always modify as required. But can you change all of the natural forces that touch us all? Nope! But you can change how you deal with those forces. Can you change decisions made by others? Well sometimes yes and sometimes no. Determining those things that can be changed versus those things which you cannot change, is very important and clearly demands wisdom.
But wisdom requires experience and knowledge that can be used to render good judgement. So in order to develop wisdom you must literally live and learn. In so doing you will surely make many mistakes, such is the nature of life so accept what is and always be ready to learn from both your mistakes and your successes. We know that to succeed in our world we must never ever quit but we can and we must continuously modify our behavior as circumstances require. You are dating someone you believe you love but he or she has this one very irritating habit that just never goes away. You have discussed it a lot but it just never goes away. It ultimately becomes abundantly clear that this is just one of those things you cannot change. So do you just keep on trying to force that change or do you accept that it will never change and move on? You have a situation at your work that is troubling you. Do you just ignore it and hope it goes away or do you muster up the courage to discuss it, calmly, with your boss and see if things can be made better?
All day every day we are confronted with a need to make decisions about an endless variety of things. We will make mistakes and doing that actually helps build wisdom. Then again, we do also make good decisions and that too helps grow our wisdom. Life is a process that keeps changing and growing. As that happens, I believe it is wise to reach out and seek some divine guidance and thereby enhance our opportunity to achieve higher levels of health, wealth and happiness and that is why I suggest that regardless of your religious orientation you would be well served to bring the Serenity Prayer into your life now and forever.
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