As an alcoholic, I say the word “serenity, at least once a day.
Serenity is defined as: the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.
I know, I know…I can hear you from here; “Kristine, have you lost your mind? I have kids, a husband, family coming (some of them I don’t even like), I need to decorate and cook and….OH, at some point find “SE*REN*I*TY?!?”
No, I have not lost my mind, fact is, in the depths of a severe addiction, I was able to FIND my mind and put it at peace, even when the winds of a hurricane (aka the Holidays) are upon me.
In recovery, we say The Serenity Prayer, quite often. For me, it’s a few times a day, “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”.
Now, our goal is serenity, but let’s be real, serenity doesn’t make a problem disappear, achieving serenity simply means that we CHOOSE to make peace with our circumstances and we’ve developed the ability to cope and thrive, in spite of the challenges.
Like many things in life, serenity doesn’t just fall from the sky like unicorn glitter, landing on the “lucky ones”. Serenity is a learned skill that requires effort and consistency and a commitment to try to make your mind a safer place to be. It’s a simple thing, but sometimes it’s not easy. Interestingly, it’s the simple things that usually fly out the window in the face of a crisis, or struggle.
I have 5 adult children, that have their own families, so holidays are an adventure in my family! It took me many years to learn to find serenity.
Here are a few suggestions for capturing serenity, even when everything around you seem chaotic and falling apart:
No matter how bad things seem to be, there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. There are some days that the best I can do is thank God for the air I just breathed. Try writing down 5 things you’re thankful for. You can’t be anxious and thankful at the same time.
Get Enough Sleep
Do you ever wish you could throw yourself on the floor of Target and throw an epic fit, because you need a nap? Both your physical and mental health will improve when you are getting enough rest. I carry a photo of Me as a child. There are times, I need to take care of that little girl and put her to bed early, to make sure she gets enough rest, so that she will awaken with a relaxed and clear mind.
Look for the Lesson in Troubles
So many times, I hear people say, “why is this happening to me”, or “why is this happening now”? Imagine if we exchanged that thinking for “God, what are you trying to teach me”, or “God, what are you protecting me from”? Sometimes LIFE just happens. You see, the problem isn’t the problem; your attitude towards the problem is the problem.
Acceptance isn’t giving up or giving in. Acceptance is recognizing what you can and can’t change. Acceptance is taking things as they are, not as you would have them be. Acceptance of people means allowing them to be themselves, not what or how you would have them be. Sometimes God places people that are “heavenly sand paper” in our path, to smooth over our rough edges. God is God and you are NOT. Adopting the saying, “Live and Let Live” has saved many a relationships in my life.
Feed Your Body Properly
Garbage in= garbage out. The saying, “you are what you eat” is TRUE! If you feed you crap, you will feel like crap. Caffeine can cause the jitters, alcohol can cause depression, dehydration can cause headaches….get the point? Eat what God made! If it comes from the earth, it’s good for you! STEP AWAY FROM THE PROCESSED FOODS!
I was told a long time ago, “keep your words sweet, because you never know when you will have to eat them”. There is no situation or scenario in which being kind will NOT benefit you. Yelling at your kids or husband may get their attention temporarily, but in the long run, the scars that harsh words cause, last a lifetime.
Feed Your Soul
Feeling anxious, go outside. Pause. Look around. See what God has made? Name 3 things that you’re grateful for that God has made. See a beautiful flower? Look at how detailed a little flower can be. Hear a bird, or see one flying? Stop and imagine what a miracle that is. As a child of God, if He cares for the flowers and birds, IMAGINE how much He cares for you!
Get Out of Self
By nature, we are born selfish creatures. We are conditioned to cry out loud when we are not happy, or we are uncomfortable. Try getting OUT of yourself. Do something kind for someone else. Pay for a stranger’s coffee, pay a compliment to a young woman, call and check up on a family member, just to say. “I’m thinking about you”, take cookies to a neighbor, or write Holiday messages for nursing home residents. I know it’s not politically correct to say, but it’s true….it’s not all about you.
Are you a mess in a mess?
Clean your living space. Put away clutter. Get rid of excess stuff that is no longer serving you. You can’t relax, or have peace of mind, in a place that looks like a tornado hit it.
Don’t try to do everything by yourself.
You are ONE person. I have found that a lot of the stress I feel around the holidays is stress I have given myself by taking on way too many tasks. Delegate! Give others in your family assignments.
Did you know that the Serenity Prayer has more verses to it? The full prayer is as follows:
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;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next.
May God bless you and your family and my prayer for you is that you take the time to find serenity this holiday season. You and your family will be happier and more joyful because of it. So, grab a piece of peace, make some memories, and enjoy this special time of year with your children!