Prayer of Serenity
Familiar with it? I’ve always loved it.
God grant me the Peace (Serenity) to accept
the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and Wisdom to know the difference.
I share the petitioner’s desires for peace, courage, and wisdom.
Viktor Frankl—Inspiring Practitioner
Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl shares, in Man’s Search for Meaning, much of his wisdom in “knowing the difference.”
- Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
- When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
- Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
Wow, Frankl gleaned his wisdom “to know the difference” in what he could and couldn’t change while experiencing the cruelest of human behavior in Auschwitz and three other Nazi labor camps.
Reflections and Application
Frankl’s wisdom along with the Prayer of Serenity evoke my thoughts for a very practical application of this timeless wisdom.
When considering the call to “accept things I cannot change,” I want to remember that includes other people’s behavior and their thoughts about me.
I cannot control or change other people!
Plus, I really have no idea what they are thinking about me. There’s a good chance they’re thinking nothing about me!! (They’re likely thinking about themselves. What do you think?)
When considering “courage to change the things I can,” I want to remember I can change myself—my attitude, my beliefs, and my behavior to name a few.
And I also want to remember that I can change my story or interpretation about what I’m imagining others are thinking about me, which remember I have no control over.
In light of Frankl’s wisdom, I want to propose a slight tweak to the classic prayer as my guide in seeking peace, courage, and wisdom.
God grant me the Peace to accept
that I CANNOT change other people,
the Courage to change MYSELF,
and the Wisdom to ACCEPT that reality
as the path of transformation.
When I accept the reality that I cannot change other people and when I practice that realization, I experience peace! When I exercise the courage to change my attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, peace and change unfold! When I fully accept others for who and where they are, while choosing to grow beyond earlier limits I placed on myself, I’m inviting Wisdom’s guidance and direction.
Photo by ellen noon on Unsplash