The Secret of Serenity.

Contentment with yourself and others. Complete peace of mind. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if life could be lived this way all the time?

However, an everyday challenge can pose itself and suddenly any sense of tranquillity is a million miles away. It’s easy to become stressed, but with the right approach your inner calm can return.

So what’s the secret? For me it’s the recognition that it is a choice. Serenity isn’t passivity. It’s not inertia. Rather, it’s a series of decisions and actions that deal positively with a negative situation.

Recently, someone I trusted and loved committed to do something important and meaningful in my life. They let me down without explanation or regret. In the past their disloyalty and rejection would have sent me into a downward spiral of depression and alcohol abuse. I would have wasted hours wondering what I had done wrong or just ‘why me?’

Instead I chose to look at things differently. I accepted the fact that I could nothing to change the situation. The other person wasn’t going to take responsibility so I had a choice to make. Feel bitter and hurt, or make a decision to overcome my disappointment and offence.

I often refer to the well-known Serenity Prayer: “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.” ~ Reinhold Niebuhr.  

In this instance I knew that for my own peace of mind I had to ‘let it go.’ I had to accept the things I couldn’t change and find the courage the change the things I could. It required a combination of determination, perseverance and prayer but it was worth it. It freed me of resentment and allowed me to move on.

When life leaves you feeling battered and betrayed it can be hard to contemplate change. The unknown can be infinitely more fearful than the known. The more vulnerable you are the harder it can be to step out of the comfort zone.

Trust you intuition and remember that the right decision is often not the easiest. Learn from the difficulties of the past and embrace the newness of the future.

Wasting your energy and time on trying to change others will only leave you disconnected and frustrated. Choose to forget what you can’t do and focus on what you can.

Today I choosing serenity. Are you?

75 thoughts on “The Secret of Serenity.

  1. Pingback: The Freedom of Forgiveness. | The Hurt Healer

  2. Love reading Your blog, glad I have had the time to catch up on all my reading which includes this post! My favorite line is – Serenity isn’t passivity. It’s not inertia. Rather, it’s a series of decisions and actions that deal positively with a negative situation.

    That is a brilliant summary and Oh how true that is, andits in line with the quote “life is 10% circustances, and 90% how You react to it”.

    Keep writing so I can keep reading 🙂 …

  3. It is a higher power that leads me to the soulful messages like yours. I need serenity and will read and reread. I lost my relationship with my daughter six months ago after years of teenage abuse, mental and physical. With me tring my hardest to keep safe after she threw me to the ground she left my home. Long story short, she lives with a friend and her family, who has supported her and belittled me. I can say I hurt daily and miss her so much. I betrayed her by writing a letter calling out her issues with the abuse, drug use and other things I should have kept to myself. She will not respond to any communication. The father who considers my daughter his daughter now, called the police, who notified me by letter, that I would be charged with harrasment if I contact any of them including my daughter again. My lesson has been to initiate a new spiritual path, which I am thankful. Still I feel broken to try to understand how and why the past 6 month has happened.

    • So sorry Beth to hear of your terrible situation. It sounds like at the moment you are all too raw and hurt to manage the relationship. Perhaps this is your time to step back, find your own serenity and allow your daughter to find hers. Of course it’s not easy but you cannot change the past, you cannot change her addiction and behaviour. I’m sure with hindsight you would not have reacted as you did, but it is done. There is healing needed on both sides. If you start the healing process for yourself, then in time you will be able to see things differently. Start with looking at where you are today and your hopes for the future. It is possible to recover from broken-ness. Rebuild your heart from within. Be kind to yourself. Love and blessings to you Beth.

  4. The “clincher” phrase is “I knew that for my own peace of mind I had to ‘let it go.’” That personal empowerment is what makes the difference: the understanding (and belief) that we have the ability to determine the outcome … by our reaction to the other person’s action. Beautifully told, as always, Carolyn!

  5. Another great post Carolyn! I have become much more conscious of the importance of serenity and letting go since I had my heart attack. Where before I would’ve got all worked up over things I had no control over, I find it much easier to let them go now, and just focus on what I can do to make things better. It was hard to learn, but gets a little easier every day.

  6. Love, love, love this post Carolyn! This really resonated with me, “So what’s the secret? For me it’s the recognition that it is a choice. Serenity isn’t passivity. It’s not inertia. Rather, it is a series of decisions and actions that deal positively with a negative situation.” Soooooo very true! Thanks 🙂

  7. Excellent post Carolyn! I do choose serenity for myself, it’s not always been that way but the key is, as you’ve mentioned here, that you cannot change another person and you cannot change their actions or inaction – but what you can change and take responsibility for is how it affects you!

  8. Beautiful and insightful post. I too think it would be wonderful to live in serenity all the time ..BUT then life would not provide us the lessons we so need to learn.

  9. Beautiful sentiments today. Serenity is definitely a choice, just like attitude. This makes me think of Charles Swindoll’s wonderful piece on that subject, which I try to live by. Great article!

  10. This is such a simple concept. I have really been enjoying the freedom to choose serenity lately. Something I didn’t understand when I was younger. Thanks for the reminder of how we can choose to let God handle it!

  11. A couple of paragraphs into your article, I immediately thought of the serenity prayer. And then, a few paragraphs down…there it was. I really do think when others let you down, that prayer can be a great guide to letting it go.

    Just a couple weeks ago, I was dealing with a situation that was really making me crazy. It was a bad situation, but there was absolutely nothing I could think of to change it. I turned it over in my mind a hundred different ways, I got angry, and I made myself crazy. Eventually I got to the point where I thought, “There is nothing I can do about it, so I have to accept it.” Once I realized that, it was still hard to just accept it, but that was the only way to let go of the situation. So that’s what I did – I accepted it. Like you said, it was a series of actions and decisions to accept it that was the only way to get to the point of serenity.

    Thanks for this post. I needed to read it. 🙂

    • I could totally relate to your comment here! There have been times when I have driven myself crazy by mulling over a situation, or something that was said or done to me. As you say, ‘in a hundred different ways’. And it doesn’t change a thing! Thank your support Nisha!

  12. Today I actually chose the slam-bang chaos of busy-ness….but I know that I will crave serenity this evening when I get to be with my sweet beautiful Tina. We don’t normally get much time together during the week. We’ll sit and chat in the back yard, watching the dog and listening to the birds. PEACE! : )

  13. Loved this post, Carolyn! It is such a huge waste of time trying to change others but it’s easy to get busy distracting ourselves with that impossible task. I loved the sentence ” I knew that for my own peace of mind I had to ‘let it go.’” And that is true self care and service to others. Thank you for your wisdom!

  14. Carolyn, you have a very gentle voice, a voice of wisdom. I can feel more than read your words, for they come from your heart!

    Yes, I choose serenity today!!! There is peace in knowing you can be in control of who and what affects your emotions, your identity, your sense of well-being.

    I really thank God for you, Carolyn!

  15. I agree that our serenity, our happiness, our destinies are things that are not subject to happenstance around us, but rather are subject to our our decisions and our actions.

  16. Thank you, Carolyn, for the reminder about the importance of *deciding* what we want and what we experience in life. It’s something I struggle with a lot. I also LOVE the “Birdsong” painting at the top of your post – you always find the most beautiful art!

    • Thank you for your comments Barbara! It’s so easy in the midst of our difficulties to remember that we still have some choices! Some times it really does feel that we don’t! So glad you love the painting. As always the artist has kindly given permission to use it and I think it’s lovely!

  17. Carolyn, Thanks for sharing your personal story. You’re 100% right that we have choices in how we respond. I used to take EVERYTHING so personally. It has taken me years to let go, be detached, and understand that what has happened is all about the other person and not you.

    Kudos to you for releasing the hurt and disappointment. To be able to do that means that you are making some great strides on your journey through life. Fran

    • Thank you for such insightful comments Fran. It does take time to stop believing everything is your fault if you’ve spent years believing it! I wasted so much time before I got the stage that I realised that the other person played a part too!

  18. This post is a beautiful affirmation, again, Carolyn. You’re right about exercising our choice. But it is hard to do when you’re hurting. I too have tried to transcend those feelings – and I must say, growing older helps a lot to achieve it more easily. 🙂 I am wishing you had written this post for my blog – I love it so much. Hugs. Be well!

    • I love your idea of transcending the feelings – a lovely description. We do have to learn to rise above the hurt rather than wallow in it! And as you say, it does get easier as we get older 🙂

  19. Your posts are always filled with so much wisdom Carolyn…we all meet people that hurt us. Nobody of us can say that we never have hurt somebody; after all we are al humans. I have hurt my husband, my children and so on because I am not perfect, but there is always a new beginning, right? It’s up to do what we do with all these experiences. Thanks Carolyn!

  20. I love this line, Carolyn, “Wasting your energy and time on trying to change others will only leave you disconnected and frustrated.” That is so true and for me right now a challenge. You want things to be better, but to reach serenity, I have to remember that it is out of my control. Thanks for sharing – great post!

    • Sorry to hear you’re being challenged in this way Cathy! Other people can frustrate us terribly, but you are so right to remember that their actions and behaviour are out of our control. Love and blessings to you 🙂

  21. I love this post! Serenity took quite some time for me to understand, let alone achieve (on most days, anyway:) !) Definitely learning how to let go of resentments was a huge help. For me, that took understanding another person’s behaviors where the result of their brain’s wiring, and if they could not control that wiring (as in the case of untreated addiction or mental illness), I certainly could not so my only choice was to let it go. It was also the idea of forgiveness. For me, forgiveness was not about “erasing” or condoning or somehow making okay someone’s hurtful behavior, rather it was letting go of wanting a different outcome. Thanks for another wonderful post, Carolyn!

    • Thank you Lisa for your wonderfully insightful comments! Serenity takes practice and is so intertwined with forgiveness. I love that you make the difference between erasing and letting go. Thanks!

  22. Love this. I often tell my kids, when they are hurt or disappointed by their friends, that they can not now or ever change a person. They can, however, be in charge of how they react to them. It’s a choice you have. You can get offended, mad, disappointed, angry, upset…or let it be. Learn from it, forgive that person, act nice to them anyway etc. It’s a very hard lesson, but we keep hammering on it, because it will take you far in life! Thanks for this awesome post!

  23. This is how I try to approach life as well. It’s becoming easier to get back to knowing I have a choice when I am hurt or angry or disappointed. I acknowledge the feelings but do my best not to wallow in them. There is a fine line between that and bypassing or stuffing those feelings that are considered negative. Thanks for your thoughts and sharing your own insights!

    • Shelly you make a wonderful point here about the fine line between bypassing or stuffing feelings. Acceptance involves acknowledging and dealing with feelings not ignoring them. Thank you for your great comments!

  24. i always wonder at how thing are connected in some way, How we can attract good vibes (and bad sometimes). Yesterday I have a very bad day doing some work that meant to change my life in the future. The day finished awfully, fighting with the person I love the most.
    Today I started all over again with a different mindset ‘I have to do it in my own time’.
    Things went completely different. I haven’t achieved the whole lot, only a small step further, I feel great, tired but great.
    So when I read your post I smiled and said to me this was sent just when I need it, Amazing!!.

  25. What a beautiful post. You know, I have found that when people let me down, it’s usually all about them and has nothing to do with me. I like that you teach us to be proactive in our decisions to keep our serenity. Thanks!

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