“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” — Nathaniel Branden
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In difficult times we are reminded of these encouraging words:
“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.”
We know these words today as the Serenity Prayer—attributed to the 20th century theologian Reinhold Niebuhr—however their spirit can be traced back for centuries:
"Blessed is he, who has learned to bear what he cannot change, and to give up with dignity, what he cannot save."
— Friedrich Schiller (1801)
“For every ailment under the sun there is a remedy, or there is none. If there be one, try to find it; if there be none, never mind it.”
— Mother Goose rhyme (1695)
“At the head of all understanding is realizing what is and what cannot be, and the consoling of what is not in our power to change.”
— Solomon ibn Gabirol (11th-century)
“If there's a remedy when trouble strikes, what reason is there for dejection? And if there is no help for it, what use is there in being glum?”
— Shantideva (8th-century)
No matter how it’s phrased, the spirit is the same, and it’s worth noting the dual roles that choice and acceptance play in response to our circumstances:
Either way, acceptance plays a role, and we are free to choose which one we move towards.
What what are you choosing to accept?
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Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.