“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things that I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”
This abbreviated version of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer, published in 1951, is a timeless, simple prayer, known by so many and appreciated globally for its pragmatic approach to life’s challenges.
In this period of uncertainty, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate moment to recall these words and apply their messaging for our current situation.
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
This virus is a no-win for us. This is Goliath. And we’re not David.
If we challenge it, chances are we will lose and make it worse for others who have made the commitment to fight the battle for us—straining their capacity when they need all resources on deck. It’s time to be selfless: take one for humankind and shelter in place. Sometimes we just must accept that we don’t get to control everything.
So where does calm in this moment arise? It is in trusting the advice from experts with seven-syllable credentials who’ve made it their life‘s work to study and to track unseen monster forces. They have a clearer vantage point than any of us to make recommendations for our safety.
The courage to change the things that I can.
Now that we’re hunkered inside our sanctuaries in our efforts to escape our invisible adversary, applaud yourselves for fulfilling your obligations as responsible adults: protecting your household and ensuring there’s food. Anything above that is a bonus. The fact that you are reading this article means you have electricity and internet access. Bonus check mark. No courage required here, just good adulting.
How we choose to change to make the best of this hindrance limiting our ability to move freely is purely a matter of perspective.
Here are your choices:
Wishing you were elsewhere.
You can rue, complain, feel antsy, become restless, bored, go stir crazy, and opine about your inability to be out in the world, as if there’s one open for you to explore.
Being fully present where you are.
You can appreciate the gift of this unexpected quiet time and what it represents for you and the people in your life. You can use this time to create memories, share family histories, learn to really appreciate the innate beauty of your family. Use the time to explore fuller, more meaningful conversations with each other beyond the perfunctory, “Hi, how are you doing?“
What a remarkable moment in history to have access to free technology that allows us to communicate in real-time and is the closest thing to being face-to-face with friends and family! So, FaceTime your parents, WhatsApp your best friend, and reach out to long-lost acquaintances on social media. Change how we love and treat each other.
The wisdom to know the difference.
What’s unchangeable? The restrictions, prevention methods (sanitation, self-isolation, limiting exposure), and the spread are our new normative standards that should be adhered to closely.
What’s changeable? Our attitudes toward this shift in our daily lives.
The outdoors is always a window away. Open that window, stick your hand outside, and feel the deliciousness of the air against your skin. Get your fill of the outdoors without stepping outside if you don’t have the luxury of a balcony or backyard. And always remember, our imaginations allow us to explore the world without ever leaving home.
This time will pass quickly if you embrace the blessing that it is.
This, too, shall pass.