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I first learned about the serenity prayer from Sinead O’Connor, who says it at the beginning of her second album, “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got”. I had that album on tape in high school and I listened to it on constant repeat. The thing about tapes is that you pretty much have to listen to them linearly unless you want to spend a lot of time rewinding and fast forwarding (ain’t nobody got time for that), so I heard Sinead O’Connor say the serenity prayer hundreds of times and I always associated it with her whenever I heard it later in life.
“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.”Reinhold Niebuhr
In 2021, when I started on my journey of recovery from food addiction, the serenity prayer was reintroduced to me in the context of addiction. I had never thought about the connections between addiction and serenity, courage, and wisdom before. I thought addiction was just about the substance, and I didn’t realize that it’s our thoughts that bring us to addiction, and that serenity, courage, and wisdom could help get us out of it.
About halfway through this year, I realized that my life to that point could best be described by the word “frenetic”, and that that was not a good thing. I seemed to always be going at three million miles per hour, and I was always trying to do more, get more, and be more. Why? I don’t know. I had never stopped to question it because I never recognized that it was a thing that I was doing. I didn’t think of it as a decision that I had made to live my life at maximum speed. I just lived it like that because that is how I lived. Maybe I thought everyone else did too?
When I started to get clarity on this point, I realized that I needed to slow down, and chase serenity instead of constant activity. This has been an absolute game-changer for me, and I think it has helped me improve my relationships with others, and with myself. The idea of slowing down and being more thoughtful about my life – that I don’t have to always be looking for more, that I can be satisfied with what I already have, that the answer is probably right in front of me if I can just slow down long enough to notice it – has helped me change my life dramatically in a very short amount of time.
My goal for 2022, therefore, not by design, but by a series of awakenings, became to “chase serenity”. These two words may sound ridiculous together, but they speak to me and my particular form of “disordered thinking” in a way that makes me hear the message clearly.
I ran out of time, so I had to stop there. Look at me stopping something and not just doing it forever! I don’t have to be a slave to my innate inertia, at least not today!