When I created my 2017 New Year’s Vision and resolutions, I was carving out the intention to change. But I realized that I don’t always know what I can change and what I can’t.
The Serenity Prayer reminds me of the difference:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.
So, here’s the truth about what I want to change: I was way too busy last year. There’s lot of good reasons for that: I was building my new business, setting up classes, connecting with family and friends, meditating, working out, etc. Many of you know the richness and fullness of life.
But how do I actually change this feeling (or reality) of being “too busy”? I know I’m not alone on this journey of seeking increased quietness and peace. This over busyness is like a societal mental illness that haunts many people.
So here’s my question for you and me:
How do we know what is within our capacity to change and what is not?
As a life coach promoting internal change and as a feminist and social activist committed to external change, how do I know when to do which? I can sit quietly in meditation and build consciousness AND I can fight and take political action. Or a combination. In his brilliant and bold farewell speech, Obama called on citizens to step up and take action if they don’t like what is happening politically.
But back to the question: how do I know when to sit and when to take action?
So when I came across this delightfully clear description in The Spirituality of Imperfection (1992), based on the psychologist Dr. Farber’s work, I wanted to share it.
Directly will: But Not:
Going to bed Sleeping
Dr. Farber states in The Ways of the Will (1966) that when we confuse the two realms of what we can make happen and what we can’t, it starts a vicious circle of trying to control what cannot be controlled. This can descend into the madness of addiction, he says. Thus the Serenity Prayer was written, used all over the world in 12 step programs, a call to sanity and recovery.
Being willful or willing:
So, like Gandhi, I have a 2017 call to action for you: Learn to know, deep in your bones, what the difference is between forcing or allowing; fighting or inviting; being willful or willing.
What I know is that when I’m too busy, I cannot discern the difference between being willful or willing. Instead, I plow ahead, “willy-nilly”, as my mom used to say. This subtle yet significant distinction requires a quiet attention and presence of mindfulness.
I invite you to join me in creating or adding to your vision for the upcoming year.
Vision for the Year 2017
I resolve to invite increased attention and presence to know more deeply
what I can directly will and what I cannot,
to guide me to create internal and external change.
Susan H. Young, M.Ad.Ed, is passionate about following a path of change and awakening. She is a certified life coach, Mindfulness Facilitator and yoga teacher at Janati Yoga School. Contact her at susanyounglifecoaching.com or firstname.lastname@example.org,