I’m not a religious person but I do have a prayer I say daily:
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.
I use this one because it’s short and when I make it a daily habit I find I’m a happier person. Like many people I like to be in control and often lose perspective on what I actually have control over. I wish I could say it’s just about my kids, family, and friends but at my worst I can take on solving local, national or even the whole world’s problems.
I’m concentrating nowadays on what I talk about with others. Fortunately it’s easy to find positive, lovely and funny things to talk about. It becomes more challenging when I try to stop myself from relating a ‘can you believe?!’ statement about someone’s behaviour. I have to remind myself that just because they do something different to what I would do it doesn’t make it wrong. The tricky bit is being able to share my concerns without simply being judgmental.
As a guideline I ask myself, ‘Are you sharing this because you want advice about how you can truly help this person or are you looking for approval about what a bad decision it is?’ If I’m asking for advice it should be because I actually can help and have been invited to do so by parties involved. If not, then I don’t say anything. Because thinking the thought is bad enough, saying it out loud justifies its validity.
In an effort to push out the judgmental thoughts I find myself looking for simple expressions of happiness. Drinking coffee with my darling husband on weekend mornings, a long walk with a close friend, sharing a laugh and connection with students.
Accepting that I cannot change other people’s beliefs and subsequent behaviour is enormously frustrating. Changing my own thoughts and behaviour is challenging. Finding wisdom in understanding the difference is peace.
Wish me luck.