The Serenity Prayer addresses our need to control the world around us and the frustrations that arise when we don’t like how things are. It goes like this:
O God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time.
When we want things to be a certain way and they are not that way, it disrupts our serenity. It ruins our peace of mind. Courage and wisdom are helpful allies in the quest for serenity. Serenity is the gateway to courage and wisdom. The time that we need serenity is when it is lost to us.
Courage, wisdom and serenity are not things what we lack in our essence, but we are unable to access them when things feel out of control. Thoughts, moods and circumstances change all the time. When we feel good, we are happy with how these things are going, and we have a sense of control. When we feel bad, we are unhappy with how things are going, and we have a sense of being out of control. These issues are as much about our sense as about our control. Courage helps us stand up to fear and other difficult emotions. Wisdom helps us sort through confusion. Serenity is our natural state, when we know that we have the wisdom and courage necessary to manage any difficult emotion and circumstance.
The past and future are beyond our control. They are huge. The past has been accumulating for billions of years, the future will unfold for billions more. That is beyond our scope of influence. The present moment is where we live. It is where we feel and act. It is small and manageable. The present moment is where we access our courage and wisdom to work with what is happening to exert what control we have, and to create serenity in our lives and peace in the world.