Serenity Prayer Meaning

About the Serenity Prayer Meaning

Last Updated on June 28, 2021 by Avia

Serenity Now!
Tips About the Serenity Prayer Meaning, Choices, Change, and Life

Breaking down the Serenity Prayer meaning and actionable tips for improving life: For over 80 years, people from secular and religious backgrounds alike have been quoting the Serenity Prayer for its practical yet empowering sentiment. It has become a popular mantra over time; as we see it etched on coffee mugs and embroidered on blankets. The invocation has been a lifeline for recovering alcoholics, a tribute to wounded soldiers or anyone who is grasping for safe harbor in the tumultuous, uncontrollable seas of life.

Loosely paraphrased, the core message of the Serenity introduction encourages its readers to
Have the serenity to accept the things they cannot change, the courage to change the things they can change, and have the wisdom to know the difference.”

~Serenity Prayer
Serenity Prayer Meaning
Serenity Prayer Meaning

Origins and Core Meaning of the Serenity Prayer

The origins of the Serenity Prayer are hazy at best. Protestant theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr is commonly considered the first to pen the prayer. However, similar renditions were uttered from historical greats such as Greek philosopher Epictetus, the Italian Dominican friar, Thomas Aquinas, and the Roman statesman, Cicero.

Whomever you ascribe as the author, this simple yet profound recitation has played a powerful role in human attitude adjustments. What’s more, you don’t have to pray or believe in the essence of prayer to benefit from the timeless lesson this simple sentence reveals.

The core meaning of this invocation is merely a reminder that life sometimes goes off the rails; we have control over some things, but other things we’ve got to let go of. Remembering these benchmarks can prove to be remarkably liberating, leading to great peace and forward mobility in life.

Serenity Prayer Meaning
Serenity Prayer Meaning

Tips From the Verities of the Serenity Prayer

Sure, we could take the Serenity Prayer meaning at face value and concede we can take the helm and navigate through some challenges, whereas some stuff we just have to coast through. However, we could go more deeply by pondering how these words can be put into practice. Here are a few applications from the Serenity Prayer that can facilitate a positive mentality and healthy productivity.

Serene Acceptance is Not the Same as Quitting

The Serenity Prayer meaning begins by splashing us with a bucket of cold reality. It prompts the reader to surrender to the things that cannot be changed. For many of us, this is the hardest life lesson we will ever attempt to learn. Too often, stress and anxiety bubble up from bullheaded determination in refusing to accept the circumstances in which we find ourselves. While strength and persistence are admirable, they can cause intense internal pressure which prohibits different options to flow through our barricaded mindset. The opening line of the Serenity Prayer encourages acceptance, in order to make room for new opportunities in our lives. However, the statement does not imply giving up

For example, most of us were utterly powerless to change the impact of Covid on our lives or businesses. The more we railed against the negative implications of the pandemic, the more we found ourselves frustrated, conflicted, or downright manic about the situation. Those among us who accepted the consequences of Covid lockdowns were able to reassess the state of affairs; this rendered more flexibility in thinking and gave allowances for coping, healing, and working around pandemic-centric challenges.   

A great illustration can be found in mindful restaurateurs, who were arguably hit the hardest during the pandemic (in terms of business). Those who accepted they could not change restrictions caused by Covid started working around the situation by modifying business practices. This is a shining example of accepting stuff we cannot change or control, but never tossing in the towel. Rather, the process of maintaining serenity in the midst of unmovable obstacles in life can break open new ways of thinking, allowing us to move forward and cope with situations more efficaciously and with more grace. Acceptance is not giving up. It’s about seeing uncontrollable crap in terms of fertilizer. Said differently, it’s about reworking our perspective to leverage crummy circumstances into favorable opportunities.

Change Takes Chutzpah

The second portion of the Serenity Prayer meaning deals with our ability to change the things that are within our power to change. You know, it’s such a simple statement, but again, one of the hardest things to do. For some, change is a big, fat hairy challenge. There is a comfort to having everything samey-same. In many cases, we may complain about how things are when in reality, most of these things can be changed. 

So why don’t we? Why do we resort to complaining about this stuff that could be reversed or improved? Because it takes work. Change takes consistent effort and commitment. Change can also be freakin’ scary.  Mental messages often flash in our consciousness, saying, “But if I rock the boat and fiddle with the status quo…THEN what?!?

Facing the unknowns that kick our faces in when we start to make changes requires grit and determination. Switching things around in our life takes faith and vision too.  In some cases, it takes us getting to the bottom of the barrel, in deep despair in order to alter our circumstances. Whatever the case, change take balls.

Some folks can’t do change, for a myriad of reasons. Perhaps it’s easier to stay stuck and complain about woes and miseries in life. It’s often easier to gripe and wallow in the mud of problems rather than roll up our sleeves, and get dirty while mucking for solutions.  You know what? That’s okay. Very often life will force changes upon us. What’s important to realize here is this: Make changes while you have some modicum of control, or wait for life to make changes for you and run the risk of having no control.

Perhaps the most resistance to making changes may be the prospect of taking responsibility for our actions. What if we make adjustments, and things get worse? Well, I’d say that’s a scenario in which we’ve got to pull up our hip boots, wade through the consequences, take responsibility, and redirect towards making different choices.  Change ain’t easy because it implies a lot of transition without a clear understanding of results or consequences. In turn, we are required to believe in ourselves and have faith in our instinct to improve our lives whenever and wherever we can. 

Serenity Prayer Meaning
Serenity Prayer Meaning

What’s important to realize here is this:
Make changes while you have some modicum of control, or wait for life to make changes for you and run the risk of having no control.


Wisdom to Know the Difference

I know I’ve said it twice over now, but this is perhaps (again) the hardest lesson to learn. Well, heck, I guess it’s all hard, but the Serenity Prayer meaning is about reliance upon ourselves and our divine HP (higher power, god, goddess, infinite intelligence, mother nature, inner being…whatever you consider the source that is all-knowing and guides you to remember the best version of yourself).

Too often, many of us second guess our own knowing, or doubt our intuition, or ignore that ‘still small voice’ that stirs from within.  Trusting ourselves and/or our higher power for direction in life is not always a cakewalk. In fact, if it doesn’t come naturally to you, it takes practice as well as trial and error.  Trusting in yourself is like bodybuilding. It takes consistent repetitions to build the muscle of intuition and it takes constant visits to “god’s gym” (meditating and communing with infinite intelligence, higher power, your ideal of god, etc.) in order to have faith in greater, divine guidance.

Knowing the difference between what we can change and what we cannot change takes a certain flavor of wisdom that requires us to let go of preconceived notions and surrender to The Source that put us here in the first place.  If you have troubles conceiving “The Source” or a higher power, then go within, because divinity and infinite potential indwell you.  Get still, be aware, meditate and be present. Doing this will connect you with the infinity within you and that’s how wisdom emerges, guiding you to the next step to take, and the next and the next.

Closing Thoughts About Serenity Prayer Meaning

I just want to reiterate here…you don’t have to be religious (or even spiritual) you don’t have to be a prayerful person, or even believe in prayer. I’m just kicking around cans about the Serenity Prayer meaning and how it eloquently illustrates what every human is faced with just by living life.  I hope this breakdown about the perennial Serenity invocation and suggestions about its potential for guidance in life was helpful to you. As always, thanks for reading!

Mighty brightly,

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