Self Help Sanctum

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Beyond the Serenity Prayer

As discussed in Wisdom of the Serenity Prayer the words of Reinhold Niebuhr provide an excellent guide for living:

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.

However, once we have absorbed and started to apply this principle we may begin to recognize that life is not, unfortunately, so simple. This article presents two further considerations in determining how we should apply our limited resources.

There is of course a dichotomy between the things we can and cannot change, and we shouldn't expend any time/energy on what is beyond our influence. But of the things we can change (or more accurately influence) there is a spectrum of how much we can change them.

Eg: we may have complete control over the wall color of our room, but we generally have minimal control over the actions of our government (unless a member of it), but we can still vote, sign petitions, make representations etc. Somewhere in-between is family life where husband and wife (and kids?) may each have a say over decisions. The amount of influence we have over something affects how much energy we should allocate to it.

The second consideration concerns how our actions align with our goals. It is essential for happiness and wellbeing to know our goals in life and to ensure we use our time and energy to take us closer to those goals. Even if we can greatly influence something, if it is not something important or of interest to us then we shouldn't be wasting time or energy on it.

So, from all the things we can influence, deciding which we should focus our attention and efforts on really depends on how much our efforts on that factor can bring us closer to our goals.

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