Serenity vs. happiness
The following Serenity Prayer addresses our needs and the frustrations that arise when we don’t like, don’t want or cannot control how people, events and things are. It goes like this:
“O 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. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time”.
Very Zen but it was written by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), an American theologian.
Wonderful way of life. Do we follow them?
Almost never because our emotional mind will take over almost all the time while facing issues.
Courage, wisdom and serenity are not attributes what we are lacking, but we are unable to access and use them when things, events and people feel being not what we are expecting or out of control.
When things, people and events go in a way different from what we want or don’t want, they disrupt our expectations and ruin our peace of mind. Ego is wounded.
Courage and wisdom are helpful allies in the quest for serenity and serenity is the gateway to courage and wisdom.
Remember this: thoughts, moods and external circumstances change all the time but never last forever.
When we feel good, we are happy with how these things are going, and we have a sense of control.
When we feel bad, we are unhappy with how things are going, and we have a sense of being out of control. These situations could bring unhappiness, dissatisfaction, anger, fear, frustration and many more other negative emotions.
Courage helps us stand up to fear and other difficult emotions.
Wisdom helps us sort through difficult choice and confusion.
Serenity is a natural state of mind that we can acquire with practice. It has nothing to do with happiness since happiness is just a transient emotion usually triggered by an external event that we appreciate or enjoy.
1) Serenity is discovered when we know that we have the wisdom and courage necessary to accept what we cannot change.
Remember that things, people and events are what they are and not what we want them to be. Accepting this evidence is a critical attribute of serenity. However, acceptance does not mean passivity or defeatism.
2) Serenity is discovered also when we know that we have the wisdom and courage to accept then manage difficult emotions caused by irrational expectations and outside negative circumstances such as events and people.
Serenity defines equanimity or steady emotional mind without much up ( excitement )
and down (sadness).
The mind is a wonderful instrument and w/o it we will not be able to function properly.
However, this friend can be our worse enemy by creating a world of virtual reality in which we fall too quickly.
For example, past and future are mind-made fiction even if we look at pictures from the past and use our calendar all the time for planning in the future. Because they are virtual space-time realities, they are beyond our control and the scope of our influence. Get away of them as possible.
It is not only OK to plan but it is also mandatory. We cannot live properly w/o planning the future. However, it is important to keep in mind that, in the past we don’t exist anymore and in the future we don ‘t exist yet. “Past you and future you “and virtual templates like holographic image created in our mind. Living on too many nostalgia and expectations can be detrimental.
The present moment is, therefore, the only time-space where we are existing and real.
It is where we experience concrete existing reality, when we act and feel.
This “NOW”, being in very short in duration, is manageable as far courage and wisdom are concerned.
Contrary to happiness, serenity is a permanent mental state that does not need external events.
Anyone can learn and practice it, whereas happiness must be triggered only by an outside cause.