“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.”
– Serenity Prayer, Reinhold Niebuhr, 1934
These words have woven themselves into popular culture, thanks in large part to their inclusion in the liturgy of Alcoholics Anonymous. The prayer wasn’t written for AA, but it fits so perfectly that it could have been.
A person dealing with addiction lives on the boundary between that which is innate and that which is personal choice. No one chooses to have the impulse, but there are thousands of choices any of us can make that stack the deck to influence whether that impulse is likely to win or lose. Continue reading
Stress is the dissonance between your expectations and your reality. That’s it.
When you feel stressed, anxious, out of control of the situation, it’s almost uniformly because you want one thing but get another.
You want a smooth commute. You expected to get to work in 20 minutes. But the reality is, there’s traffic ahead and it’s going to take you 40 minutes. Your expectations and your reality don’t line up, and you feel it in the form of stress. Continue reading
I launched into a new month-long challenge today. I’m going to stop complaining for the month of February.
And just like Black History Month, I chose the shortest month of the year. Except I am not going to give a speech and tell you all that I’ve noticed what a great job Frederick Douglass is doing (yes, in the present tense).
I am a true believer in the power of our minds to shape our realities. Continue reading
What’s your superpower?
Everyone has one. I have many. For instance, when I was a kid I could tell the difference between first-run TV shows and reruns by the audio alone. That is a completely useless superpower, unless the fate of the world depends on whether this is a very special The Facts of Life, or if it’s just a regular one that you’ve already seen.
Confession: I quoted Rush in a paper I wrote in high school completely out of context, but just to do it. It went something like this: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. That has literally nothing to do with this paper, but I wanted to cite Rush in my bibliography because I’m a senior.”
That’s what you’re working with here, guys. But on to actual points that are worth making (maybe):
I’m forever working on myself. I want to be better than I am. I also want to be more content with who I am. Yes, that’s right, one of the things I’m working on is not working on myself so damned much.
I used to be a badass.
I had swagger. I viewed myself as, quite possibly, the best damned thing that had ever happened. The undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
Of course, as is the case with anyone with swagger, I was insecure about my possible inadequacies. I had a low grade fever all the time: a fear that my inflated versions of my own reality would be punctured. The fever sapped my energy. The echoes of my own inner voices reverberated in my head on a constant loop until my ears were ringing.
“Yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”
Robert Plant said that, but it just as easily could have been me, except I’m not particularly poetic, and I wasn’t alive in 1971. I’m glad he said it, though. In addition to being one of the greatest songs ever written, it sums up a major tenet of my life’s philosophy more eloquently than I ever could:
Everyone, ultimately, is seeking the same thing: happiness.
There are two divergent paths in life: the path toward money and “success”, and the path toward happiness. You might achieve monetary success through a life dedicated to happiness…that happens all the time. But if you fail, you’ll at least likely be happy and fulfilled.
You’ve never heard of the Stupidity Vigilante, and that’s ok. He was my alter ego, and I killed him slowly and quietly. The world is better off for it. Trust me.
Here’s the history. I am from the middle of nowhere, raised in an evangelical Christian home in the rural United States. We were not “poor,” I’d say we were lower-middle class if I had to guess. I’ll put it this way – the kids I thought were “rich” turned out, with some perspective, to just be normal suburbanite families with more than a few hundred bucks in the checking account.