Stress Management and The Serenity Prayer

Outstanding performance is one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.  If you want to become an outstanding performer, you need to do three things: 1) become a lifelong learner; 2) set and achieve high goals; 3) get organized, manage your life, time and stress well.

It’s December, the holiday season and the end of the year rush to finish goals.  In other words, a stressful time.  I have found that the Serenity Prayer helps when I am feeling stressed.  If you’re not familiar with the serenity prayer, it is elegant in its simplicity and wisdom.

“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.”

The other day, I saw a blog post by Laura Ries on Success  Laura listed 99 reasons why she says the Serenity Prayer.  I’d like to share them with you here.  Some will make you smile, some will make you laugh, some will make you cry. 

1.     A sunny day
2.     A rainy day
3.     Getting to work on time
4.     Being stuck in traffic
5.     Waking up late
6.     Tossing and turning all night
7.     A good night’s sleep
8.     The flu going around
9.     Spring flowers
10.   A friend getting married
11.   A brand new baby
12.   A heart condition
13.   Kidney failure
14.   Sudden death
15.   C-section
16.   Hours of labor
17.   Dementia
18.   Distinguished leader award
19.   High school graduation
20.   Grandbabies
21.   Browsing the library
22.   Divorce
23.   Cheating
24.   A job well done
25.   Differing values
26.   Smiles
27.   Twinkling eyes
28.   A good laugh
29.   Brilliant sunsets
30.   Fall colors
31.   Grandma’s quilt
32.   22 year old suicide
33.   Social injustice
34.   Child support arrears
35.   Scoliosis
36.   Chronic ear infections
37.   BS degree
38.   MBA
39.   Sharing good news
40.   Sharing bad news
41.   Good friends
42.   Not so good friends
43.   Betrayal
44.   Trust
45.   Places that look like picture postcards
46.   The house looking like a tornado hit it
47.   House full of kids, love and laughter
48.   Empty nest
49.   Retirement
50.   Fluffy pillows
51.   Clean clothes
52.   Forgiving someone
53.   Taking a stand
54.   Taking a nap
55.   Having money
56.   Taking a risk
57.   Winning a game
58.   Losing a game
59.   Starting over
60.   Starting over, again
61.   Letting go
62.   Holding on
63.   Solving a puzzle
64.   Holding hands
65.   Anticipation
66.   Friends moving
67.   Meeting new people
68.   Spending time in a sacred place
69.   After effects of a storm
70.   New building
71.   Making ice cream
72.   Old, forgotten memories
73.   Snow ball fights
74.   Incontinence
75.   Pillow fights
76.   Fire works
77.   Car wrecks
78.   College shootings
79.   Genocide
80.   Playing in the rain
81.   First dates
82.   First day of school
83.   Graduation
84.   New beginnings
85.   Birthday cake
86.   Favorite meal
87.   Purring cat
88.   HPV
89.   Broken heart
90.   Watching your child sleep
91.   Watching your child play
92.   Hospitals
93.   Job interviews
94.   On the job training
95.   Mended heart
96.   New day
97.   Virgin snow
98.   Kids growing up so fast
99.   HOPE

Laura says…

“Some days I fight against the things I cannot change.  I cannot change that dementia is slowing taking away my grandfather.  And I hate that.  And I struggle.  Then I look for the blessing, and I keep looking until I find it.  Otherwise, I’d lose sight of the good things in life.

“Grandpa is here, he is sharing the stories of his life we never knew.  This is reminding me to share with my children stories they have never heard about me as well.  My children are going with me to visit Grandpa, and that is a blessing as well.

“What are some things in your life you can change?  What are some things you cannot?  Can you find a place where letting what is be OK?  Are you making the changes that you can?”

The common sense point here is simple.  Outstanding performance is a key ingredient of success.  You can’t become an outstanding performer if you can’t manage your stress.  Stress happens when you feel out of control.  You can’t control everything that happens to you.  You can control how you react to things that happen to you.  If you decide to “accept the things you cannot change, and change the things you can,” your stress levels will diminish greatly – in this holiday season and as you work to become an outstanding performer 2009. 

That’s my take on the serenity prayer and outstanding performance.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts and experiences with us.  As always, thanks for reading.


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  1. Bud,
    Great advice. The hard part may be to learn how to accept the things we cannot change and learn how to change the things we can.
    Great post.

  2. Elizabeth:
    You’re right. The hard part is figuring out what we can and cannot change — and then choosing to accept what we can’t change and working hard to change what we can.
    Thanks so much for your comment.
    All the best,

  3. Thanks for the excellent post, Bud!
    Amazing how such a small shift in our inner focus can serve to ground and center our entire being…
    Keep up the good work,
    -James T.

  4. Thanks for your comment, James.
    I find that the serenity prayer packs a lot of wisdom into a concise package.
    All the best,

  5. My friend read this book and said it really helped him. I hope I’ll be able to read it and cope with my stress beter in this year. Well it was my new years resolution so I have to put a lot of effort in it.
    Great post,
    Thank you
    Mike T.

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