Friday, November 12, 2010

Serenity Now

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.

OK. Most people are aware of this famous prayer. I have been thinking lately about this...serenity. What to change, what not to change.... I have wondered often throughout my life about this.

I'm going to discuss personality traits here, although this obviously applies to circumstances and events, too. That would be a whole other blog post.

We all have personality characteristics that are what make us, us. I understand that to change your inherent self is counter-productive; to fight something that cannot change is like pounding your fist into a boulder and expecting it to crack open. I get that. In my case, I'm quite inquisitive, and a real talker. I'm always the last person to finish a meal because I'm talking more than eating. When I was a kid, my parents had to establish a rule when we were watching TV: "No questions until commercials". I don't think I could become really shy and also stop asking questions because I would be denying myself expression - how would I perpetuate? Everyone has traits like this; ones that ought not to change. They must be accepted.

I also understand that there are things that can, and in some cases, ought to change - for example, I tend to worry, and I know that worrying is counter-productive to a healthy self. Thus, I ought to change that.

However: sometimes there are traits and tendencies whose places in your life are difficult to judge. The line is too fine. What to change, what not to change...

How do you know the difference? How do you get the wisdom to know the difference?

OK - let me think of an example here. I'll use one of my own traits again.

What about...what about my need for order? When my house is neat and clean and free of clutter, I feel relaxed. When my house is not, I feel stressed. So the questions is: is that an okay thing? No need to change it? Or is that counter-productive to a healthy self - the whole getting stressed when things are cluttered? Is that really a cause for stress? Come on; there are a lot of other problems in life that are more worthy of stress than a house that needs dusting. So is this a negative or a positive trait? It seems that it could be either.

What if...what if, in some cases, it's not the trait itself that is something positive or negative to self, but how the trait is exercised? I mean, in the case of being a neat freak: sure, it's good to have a house in order, but to get stressed out about a few things lying around the living room (including a ton of baby things!) is kind of silly. If I were able to discipline myself to exercise this trait to my self's advantage: would that be serenity? I mean, a house free of clutter and no stress...equals a win/win? A state of repose?

Can there be variations within the things we ought to change/ought to keep the same so that wisdom is required to figure out how to modify the traits so that they inherently stay the same but don't become negative?

Hmmm....I wonder. Maybe.

P.S. See - a lot of questions :)

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