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Google announces 6,2 Million results to my search for “Serenity Prayer.”
Many team-help groups gain inspiration from this prayer:
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.
These lines hold “serenity” as the namesake, and yet who focuses on accepting the things they cannot change?!
Courage to Change Things
How exciting and ego-boosting to be a valiant savior!
To show courage and, with chivalry, to forge ahead into the unknow with sword drawn. We can almost hear the cheerleaders encouraging us on: “A.C.T…I.O.N….Action, Action, We want Action!”
Wisdom to Choose
The wizened elder expounding sound advice conjures up a positive image too.
The sage gathers a following of disciples.
The wise person holds authority.
The counselor is sought out.
A mentor’s insights lead to action.
Decision-making is prized by people from all walks of life
- CEO’s organize “strategy sessions” around critical company decisions
- Poets pen about our choice of life path…which makes all the difference
- Child educators and neuroscientists refer to developing social and emotional skills by triggering areas of the brain related to decision-making
Making choices also brings a semblance of control, a feeling especially prized when we feel out of control!
Serenity to Do Nothing!!!
Isn’t doing nothing…bad?!
Non-action runs against our sense of control. When we make a move, we feel power. When we wait, we depend upon others.
Inaction is vulnerability. Big time.
Serenity: When “Doing Nothing” is Good
To Accept Matters Beyond our Control
Some battles we cannot win; matters are beyond our control.
As I write, the French railroad employees are striking. No personal effort on my part will get my scheduled train on the tracks. Serenity helps me stop waste time moaning and groaning. Then wisdom and courage get me on my smart phone to reserve a spot on a car-pool app.
Challenges happen. We don’t choose war, persecution, cancer, corporate takeovers, our noisy next-door neighbors or ageing.
We do choose how we encounter hurdles: either as victims or as survivors. Serenity helps transform anger, hurt, and frustration into resilience, creativity, and hope.
Serenity helps us step back to identify whether we have a chance to win the challenge-of-the-moment.
To Take a Step Back
Sometimes our trouble results from a choice we took; our chosen path did not lead to the desired destination.
If we climb the winding trail at the base of Machu Pichu, we will not find a Yurt. In the same way, no matter how far we travel the plains of Mongolia, we won’t find Inca treasures.
It sounds obvious…and yet how many of us slurp ice cream or sip wine and simultaneously lament being out of shape?
Or let steam out on a colleague and expect them to be motivated at work.
Or nag at our children and anticipate they will turn to us as trustworthy, secure, and patient counselors.
Sometimes the best action is to STOP. That’s what serenity helps us do…and to look around and find an alternative route to reach our goal.
How to Build Serenity
Serenity in the Brain
Our ability to observe a situation with calm and clarity relies on brain chemistry.
Have you noticed how your thoughts get fuzzy under emotional excitation, whether anger or extreme frustration or deep grief?
Our human brains physically disconnect. The prefrontal cortex (which enables you and I to make logical connections, develop plans, understand emotional cues….) lifts and exposes the mid-brain which is responsible for our gut reactions of fight, flight, or freeze. Dr. Daniel Siegel, neuroscientist at Stanford, explains it in this two-minute video.
Serenity in the Mind
Sometimes it just takes seconds (literally) to help calm the brain and to reason clearly again.
1. My favorite way is through laughter
… and sometimes I fake it until I make it. Other times, I imagine the S.H.I.T. hitting the fan…literally. Stench. Aggggh, the clean up!
The dread of this outcome makes me laugh. AND STOP.
2. Gratitude also invites serenity.
Early in my career I interned with a clothing manufacturer to do market research and help the company owner prepare a five-year growth plan. The team consisted of seasoned men who had worked their way up in the garment district. They considered me book smart and street stupid and wanted to prove me wrong. I presented what I thought was the final report…and then discovered mistakes in the Excel calculations! No opportunity to reverse time or to delete the shared files from these colleagues’ computers.
Gratitude helped me find serenity which then allowed me to act with intelligence.
- Thankful to have found the mistake as soon as I did and that it did not change the recommendations
- Thankful I learned to review. Review. REVIEW work early on in my career
- Thankful to realize that we become super through our bloopers…the inspiration behind SoSooper!
Serenity is simple. Not easy. The opposite of serenity is worry and brooding. Now THAT is complicated!!!
In what situations do you need serenity?
What do you do to take a step back and regain perspective?