Serenity

While it’s sometimes beneficial to be filled with nervous energy and constantly opening up to every passing moment, being this way nonstop can be exhausting for both you and those around you. It’s often better to spend some time with those who can just relax without being "on" all the time (or expecting you to be), and with someone who will calm you down when you are stressed rather than feed it. On a personal level, more serenity in your life will open your heart and decisions to new and greater feelings of contentment and possibly even happiness. If you able to hold on to a sense of calm and peace while the world rages on, you will be able to find the time to appreciate your passing moments and gain the talent of being able to find enjoyable moments even while your struggle through less-than-ideal situations. While you shouldn’t turn yourself off to your emotions, you can benefit from being able to calm them down after you’ve expressed them so you can focus on living life—or similarly benefit simply being able to control them when you need to make slow, careful decisions.

While there is some similarity to this virtue and magnanimity, this trait is more about serenity as a part of calmly experiencing your daily life in peace and less about controlling your emotional responses in more extreme situations; magnanimity and serenity can certainly prop each other up as well, and trying to live one virtue to the extreme while you severely lag in the other will probably be nigh impossible. You may, in fact, want to consider working on them in tandem.

While working on your serenity, you will have to get in the habit of being more aware of your daily levels of stress. Many people, out of necessity, tend to ignore how stressed or even freaked out they are toward responsibilities or other things going on in their lives. You may find yourself one day suddenly unwilling to call old friends and relax, and having difficulty sleeping at night. You might be thoroughly confused. You might ask yourself, "What’s going on? Nothing bad is going on. Just the same old, same old at work and at home." It’s entirely possible, however, that a recurring stress has finally beaten down your resistance and you are just now feeling the repercussions of it. Perhaps some problem in a relationship or something that was said is really bothering you, and you’re too proud to admit that you have been affected by it. It’s also possible that your subconscious is working against you. You might consciously be excited and dedicated to getting your marriage to work, but you might suddenly find yourself down and depressed if your subconscious is terrified of continuing a difficult relationship with no foreseeable end in sight. You can be better at recognizing these hidden stresses and motivations with practice, and then you can be better prepared to fix your life problems or simply cope with them more successfully.

Another aspect of living a serene life is getting in the practice of dimming your response to emotional stimuli and daily problems. Now, one doesn’t necessarily want to diminish the positive emotional highs from their lives, but even then there are instances where over responding to positive events can cloud your judgment or encourage you to make irrational decisions. Most often, however, you will want to focus on how negative events affect your feelings of stress and your mood, and your ability to think of other matters besides these after you’ve given them their due time. The only way to do this is by practice, and likely using techniques to remind you that you are trying to change your attitude toward life since your old habits will be much stronger than your new ones for a long time to come—and you are going to need every help you can get. Over time you behavior will reflect a calmer reflection of yourself.

Finally, in order to lead a serene life will require you to make other changes to your life and habits. If you serenely float by as your finances and health or whatever crashes around you, you’ve turned a virtue into a trait of being irresponsible. If you have a lot of stress in your life over things you can have control over, then it’s high time to begin controlling those aspects of your life. This might mean improving organization, budgeting, cleaning habits, work habits, or whatever. Once your stress is diminished, your total level of serenity will increase naturally.

If you can attack serenity on all these levels, you truly can become a peaceful, calm influence on your peers and friends and in your own life.

Note: Some people might be ignoring trouble or issues due to unbearable stress or as a symptom of depression. This is probably not the more common situation, but if there is a chance that you are ignoring too many problems in your life, then don’t continue or justify this in the name of serenity.

Activities

  • Keep a Stress Record or Journal: You need to start becoming aware of what causes stress and anxiety in your life. Some people, myself included, can sometimes be unaware that they are even frazzled or stressed in the first place! Once you start becoming more in touch with your feelings and what buttons are being pushed, you can start working to change your environment or at least actively try to cope what you're going through—sometimes just the act of having your anxiety illuminated to you can do wonders just by itself! Whenever you lose yourself to stress or anxiety, whether this is anger, nail-biting, worrying, crying, or whatever, write the event down and think about the events or conditions that brought this upon yourself. This would also be a good time to consider how much control you have over the situation, or whether the culprit is worth the concern.
  • Catch Yourself Early and Calm Down: Once you have a good handle of your emotions at any given moment, and understand what causes your bouts of anxiety and stress, you can begin catching yourself as you begin to slip and working on those strong emotions before they get out of hand. What you do will depend on what you discover pushes your buttons. You may simply just need to pause or remove yourself from a situation for a moment, or begin talking yourself out of panic through practiced logic. You may need to do something more proactive, like go for a walk, listen to music, or talk to a friend. Discover what works for you and do it before it gets out of control.
  • Take Up Meditation or a Hobby: You might benefit from meditation or taking a relaxing hobby if you suffer from a strong lack of serenity in your life. Alternatively, doing something more rowdy like an organized sport might do more to release the stress! Even then, however, you will probably want to learn how to spend some time in a quiet activity.
  • Try to Act Calm: This may seem like "faking" it, but actually working on putting on a calm demeanor can actually make you feel and become a calmer person. This works on all attitudes and emotions, trying to look and act happier will often make one happier, for instance. When you are talking with others or even just working around the house, try to act like someone who is calm and comfortable in their own skin. Don't fill a conversation with nervous energy, but instead try to keep a steady confidence. Over time you will start becoming a calmer person in general, or at least have the ability to turn yourself off when you have had too much.
  • Change Your Life: If you are living a hectic, difficult life, you might not receive much serenity until you improve on it. Find out everything that causes you undue stress and try to improve on these problems. Like mentioned above, this will often mean learning new skills and solving bad habits that cause you unnecessary worry.

Your Record

Whenever you respond inappropriately to a crisis or other stressful situation because of an emotional response, then mark yourself at "fault". If you worry for excessively over something (or someone) you have no control over, then mark yourself at fault. On this you have to judge yourself: if you are not unable to turn yourself "off" when appropriate or when you needed a little more peace, then mark yourself at fault. Plan some activities and make some goals using the activities up above or your own ideas. If you fail to participate or meet your goals, then mark yourself at fault.

Opinions

Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.

Anonymous

You cannot perceive beauty but with a serene mind.

Henry David Thoreau, American Philosopher, Poet, and Essayist

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that can be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other.

Reinhold Niebuhr, American Theologian

And you would accept the seasons of your heart just as you have always accepted that seasons pass over your fields and you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

Kahlil Gibran, American Essayist, Novelist, Poet

The serenity of mind, gentleness, silence, self-restraint, and the purity of mind are called the austerity of thought.

Bhagavad Gita, Sacred Hindu Scripture

Golden Mean

Bustling
Serenity
Indifference, apathy

Recommended Reading

Finding Serenity in the Age of Anxiety — by Robert Gerzon

This book is intended to help you find serenity through personal and spiritual growth during this anxious modern time. It also contends that some anxiety is a good thing, but the problem is that people hold too much anxiety about the wrong things.

Inner Peace; How to Be Calmly Active and Actively Calm — by Paramahansa Yogananda

This book is based on the teaching of a Yoga teacher born over one-hundred years ago, and this book can help you achieve what the title suggest, how to be active in the world, yet remain calm.

The Dalai Lama's Little Book of Inner Peace: The Essential Life and Teachings — by Dalai Lama

This is the distillation of the teaching of the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.



On Amazon.com

Supreme serenity still remains the Ideal of great Art. The shapes and transitory forms of life are but stages toward this Ideal, which Christ's religion illuminates with His divine light. Franz Liszt
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