Welcome to stren # 81, a powerful wisdom worthy of a place among those most productive universal wisdoms that are supported by common sense judgment, such as:
1.    Love yourself so you have an abundance to love your neighbor.
2.    Treat others as I want to be treated.

This serenity stren is a modified version of the serenity prayer:

I will acquire the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

The philosopher W.W. Bartley expresses a similar sentiment:

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.1

      The Serenity Prayer is the common name for an originally untitled prayer that theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote for use in a sermon, perhaps as early as 1934. Niebuhr himself was quoted in the January, 1950 Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) newsletter, Grapevine, as saying the prayer “may have been spooking around for years, even centuries, but I don't think so.  I honestly do believe that I wrote it myself.”  The serenity prayer was noticed in 1941 by an early member, and adopted as integral to the teaching of AA and other programs offering comradeship and group support.2   Twelve step self-help programs such as AA are among the most effective recovery programs for many individuals. 

Only the first line of the traditional prayer is modified from the original:

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.

     The original prayer asks God to give us serenity, acceptance, courage, and wisdom.  Prayer is a very effective means of inspiration and change for individuals who believe in a supreme being who personally intervenes in the lives of those who ask.  AA members who have difficulty accepting the concept of a supreme being who actively intervenes in our life are often advised to interpret “God” to mean a higher power, such as nature’s gift to us of an intelligent brain.  The modification emphasizes the benefits of assuming personal responsibility for the change we want to create.    

      It is our nature to be dependent on others during our long immaturity, and appropriately so.  We learn to expect the world will take care of us because we would not survive without such nurturance.  Too often, this habit, once established, interferes with our mission to assume personal responsibility for our well-being.  We cry “foul” and blame the presumed source who fails to meet our unrealistic expectations.  All help boils down to self-help, best accomplished with and through other people.  We create the first spark by substituting will power for won’t power.  The Little Engine That Could story shows us how:  “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.  I will.”  With maturity, we attain the freed will to direct our thinking where we choose.  Creativity emerges from the focus of our thinking.  It is unwise to expect that our problems will be solved for us when we don’t use what is ours to solve them ourselves. 

     The story is told of a very religious man whose house was in a flooded area.  The mayor ordered buses to evacuate the residents.  The leader refused, stating his faith in God would save him.  As the waters rose he climbed onto the roof where a boat came to rescue him.  Refusing, he remained adamant that his faith in God would save him.  As the waters continued to rise, a helicopter flew by and dropped a ladder to carry him to safety.  Steadfast that God would save him, he refused to grab the ladder, and perished.  When he met St. Peter at Heaven’s Gate, he asked, “Why did God not save me?”  St. Peter replied, “Dummy! God sent a bus, a boat, and a helicopter and you ignored all three.”   

     The Serenity Prayer is often understood to mean that our lives are completely subject to forces over which we have no control.  The modification here provided is to convey that we are not hopeless and helpless in the face of difficult situations.  We have energy to pursue those challenges we can manage, and we preserve our energy by accepting that some life challenges are indeed beyond our control.  

      We are all born “stupid.”  “Stupid” means we continue to blindly obey preprogrammed behavior patterns after we are equipped to use our intelligence, when we have the ability to see.  Many of the inherited behavior patterns that enabled our ancestors to adapt and survive no longer work or have become dangerous.  Nevertheless, they were encoded in our genes and are passed forward from generation to generation.  A second set of hardwired action pathways are those traditions inscribed in us by our nurturers when we were immature and incapable of taking responsibility for ourselves.  The forces of instinct and tradition that determine who and what we are are often referred to as fate and circumstance or nature and nurture.  

     The behaviors demanded by instinct and habit are usually effective because many of the challenges that we face are the same as those our ancestors faced; they have been proven effective over millions, perhaps billions of years.  However, the problem with hardwired automatic action responses is that they lack the here and now common sense wisdom to anticipate the consequence of newer challenges – especially those that are the outcome of our growing knowledge and technology, such as weapons with ultimate destructive power, global warming, pollution, and overpopulation.  This is why I urge you to add this modified version of the Serenity Prayer to your collection of wisdoms. 

     While we are wise to welcome help, we need to recognize that we have been given all we need to make our lives joyous and fulfilling.  Although we have limited power to change others or the world, we are the sovereign rulers of our thinking.  The five required ingredients are abundantly available to us: faith in ourselves (“Yes, I think I can”), work, patience, direction, and willingness to risk giving up the dependencies and expectations that no longer work.  As we mature, our mission is to assume responsibility for our own well-being and experience the joy of contributing to the well-being of those about us.

     The serenity stren compliments stren #1 and the universal common sense wisdoms discoverable by individuals of diverse cultures.  Adopting and regularly practicing a few simple wisdoms will rapidly elevate your level of function:

  1. Stren #1- Direct your thinking to what you have achieved, what you have now, and what you might yet achieve.
  2. Love yourself so that you have plenty to give to others.
  3. Treat others as you want others to treat you.
  4. The problem-solving sentence: What is most likely to make things better for me and you, for now and the future? 
  5. The serenity stren.

     Then, further empower yourself by continuing to pursue the wisdoms that make you a Mental-Spiritual Wealth millionaire.  Enthusiastically collect the wisdoms that others have labored to discover by their mistakes and gladly make available to you, and use your intelligent human brain to create the newer wisdoms that will be your gift to posterity.

  1 References may be found in Wikipedia, the free Internet encyclopedia; see “Serenity Prayer.”
  2 Ibid.