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Wisdom and knowing

For the last two weeks, I've written about the Serenity Prayer; first about the serenity to accept what you can't change and, second, about the courage to change the things you can.

This prayer ends with the sublime entreaty for "the wisdom to know the difference." Ah, there's the rub.

To the man or woman who cannot stop drinking, does accepting that you are an alcoholic bring serenity? To the overweight or the financially strapped, do you simply accept that this is how it is, and find serenity in that? Or is there the next step, that is, can acceptance derive from changing how you frame what you cannot change? For the alcoholic who summons the courage, reframing your behavior as an addiction or disease may provide you with the tools that you can now use to manage what once seemed unmanageable, unchangeable. The same is so for the overweight person. Or the person in debt. Or in an unsatisfying relationship or job.

The decision to look at yourself and take a new view is courageous. It's the first step toward changing the things you can. And, then serenity shifts as you realize the fungible nature of choices you make. Once something was unchangeable; now it is changeable. THIS is wisdom. Understanding that the fundamental nature of life is based on your own choices is wisdom.

The difference between what you can't change and what you can change is you. Reframing your choices mindfully, deliberately, intentionally with compassion for yourself and the world around you makes you wiser.

The Serenity Prayer is like a three-legged stool. Each third is equally important to the stability of the structure. One third without the other two can stand on its own but how relevant is it? Context counts. How meaningful is acceptance without courage or wisdom? What is wisdom worth in the absence of courage and serenity? Can blind courage possibly be dangerous without serenity and wisdom?

Context is community. The Serenity Prayer has certainly found a community in AA. But Its power goes far beyond that. After all, serenity, courage and wisdom are available to us all, regardless of our struggle. I wish you a balance of all three.

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