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The Serenity Prayer

The Serenity Prayer

“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.”

Sound familiar? This is, of course, how the well-known Serenity Prayer begins, but a recent controversy has erupted over who penned the words. Long credited to Reinhold Niebuhr, a Protestant preacher who died over thirty years ago, The New York Times reports on new evidence that at least part of the prayer was already being recited before the date Niebuhr’s daughter attributes it to her father.

Regardless of who wrote it, it’s utilized by many 12-step programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous, and challenges the reader to do something simple and yet very difficult: To identify what you can change in your life and what you cannot. It sounds simple, but one of the roadblocks in making change easier is often getting at this conundrum.

Change is never impossible, and even when circumstances like a health diagnosis, a sudden death in the family, or a divorce arise, it’s important to remember that you can always change your perspective and the way you deal with difficulty. How do you know what is possible to change in your own life? [The New York Times]

Posted: 7/14/08