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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Breathe Deeply the Scent of Serenity - An Everyday Bliss Guest Post

SERENITY - the state or quality of being serene, calm, or tranquil; composure, peacefulness, peace. [Serenity week begins here. Click for this week's Bliss Initiatives.]

I am so excited to be sharing our first international guest blogger with you! Heather, known to some of you as Heckety at Home comes from the beautiful rolling countryside of Ireland. I enjoy her perspective on a great many things, visit her blog and I think you will understand, and contrary to her own opinion I just KNEW she would have something fabulous to offer! 

Where Hazelwood meets Lough Gill

Hmmmm, for some reason Kathy thought I might have some valuable input on the notion of serenity…or did she say sanity…either way, I’m honoured to be asked to contribute.
1. (n.) The quality or state of being serene; clearness and calmness; quietness; stillness; peace.
2. (n.) Calmness of mind; eveness of temper; undisturbed state; coolness; composure.
    When considering the word ‘serenity’ firstly the ‘Serenity Prayer’ comes to mind and then the opening lines of Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If’. Although approaching the meaning of serenity from different angles I think that each has a place of importance in practising this virtue: that’s the theory anyhow!

    It is easy to be serene when you are surrounded by peace, tranquillity and calm, perhaps in a beautiful garden or a venerable museum, or quietly gazing into the firelight on a cold evening. Maintaining that serenity when all around you is chaos, disorder, people calling for your attention and accidents waiting to happen is another matter entirely! Is there a mother alive who doesn’t cry ‘Yea sister!’ to that? But it is precisely in those situations that we need most to practise the virtue of serenity and not just for ourselves either, but for everyone who relies on us in any way.
    For me this has been a hard-learned life lesson, with which I contend most days, but oh so necessary in order to pave the uneven path of days.

    Serenity Prayer
    God, give us grace to accept with serenity
    the things that cannot be changed,
    Courage to change the things
    which should be changed,
    and the Wisdom to distinguish
    the one from the other.

    (The Full Original Copy of the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971))

    Give us grace to accept …the things that cannot be changed’: There really is serenity in acceptance, and I mean acceptance rather than bitter endurance, whining begrudgery, beaten depression or stubborn dissent…I know, I am guilty of all of these! It takes grace to accept the unchangeable, after which peace and serenity can follow. And honestly, there are always some things which just cannot be changed- no matter how hard I try I cannot teach my dog to use the dictionary for me.

    Courage to change the things which should be changed’: sticking your neck out always takes courage, ask any giraffe!
    The Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other’: and therein lies the real difficulty does it not? Therein is the basis of our lack of serenity; deciding what to accept and what to change.
    Look around you at any moment and you’ll see things needing your attention or a decision (even if its just a decision to ignore the issue): meetings to attend, church helpers needed, people less well off than yourself, recycling, giving, differentiating between ‘want’ and ‘need’, whether to confiscate a child’s mobile phone, appropriate behaviour, turn off the TV…its endless!
    Firstly no ONE can change the world alone, and secondly no ONE is responsible for other folk’s errors. We all must practise wisdom in considering our choices and taking responsibility for our actions.

    IF you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    (Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865 - 1936))

    When you’ve finished looking inwards at your personal choices, look outwards. Perhaps you could take a moment to follow the link and read the whole of Kipling’s poem ‘If’; containing a lifetime of wisdom, it bears repeated reading.
    There will always be people who blame you for their faults, who need a scapegoat and choose you, who take their own mistakes, embarrassment, guilt and ill-feeling out on you. Rise above it, me dears, examine your own heart before agreeing with them…here speaketh a life-long doormat who is finally discovering she has the courage to open a mental umbrella and let the criticism etc flow off into the gutter where it belongs.
    Keep your head! And don’t accept any baggage that’s not yours! You are not ‘Lost Property’.

    But how do I practise this, sez you? How do I practise inner calm when metaphorical earthquakes and volcanoes shake my world all about me? Ha! The clue is ‘inner calm’, and if we can learn to practise it regularly there is nothing and no one that will be able to shake us! In fact we could all well become invincible!!

    For some people their calm comes from their religious faith, this is true for me…until I take my anxieties back from God because I feel He’s not dealing with them to my satisfaction. Faith is a gift and available to everyone who wants it.

    For some their calm comes from meditation. I haven’t yet learned to sit still long enough to meditate, so I can’t offer an opinion on that!

    For some their calm comes from detachment from their surroundings, but since I’m not a hermit, a nun, or a steeplejack I find that an unsatisfactory solution. One of my Grannies used to tell us to ‘rise above’ our difficulties, and my Uncle always says ‘don’t let the bastards grind you down’ (which is from a song I think?) and I find those more useful pieces of advice. Accept the chaos but don’t become part of it, determine to keep a calm mind no matter what is happening around you and you’ll cope more effectively too.

    For some their calm comes from being ultra organised and in control of every situation, but don’t let being in control control you to the extent of destroying your enjoyment of living.

    For me there are times to drift and dream,
    times to be moderately organised (such as school mornings),
    times to be in control (such as in front of a class of enthusiastic children),
    times to rise above situations or fend off others’ unkindness,
    times to think and anticipate and times to act.

    And at the end of the day put some lavender oil in the burner, breathe deeply the scent of serenity and take pleasure in the fact that you have serenely accomplished another day along the multicoloured Journey of Life!



    You can visit Heather at:

    And I totally recommend you do! 

    Next Post: Serenity in Pictures  (Please point me to some of your favorites!)

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    1. Thank you so much for having me- I am really glad to be part of this project!

    2. I wrote a little post about the Serenity prayer just a few days back - I've added my link. That picture is very serene! Off to check out Heather's blog now.

    3. Beautiful post! I love the times to drift and dream!!!

    4. Lovely post! I was so happy to read this. Wonderfully written. :)


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    Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues

    • 1. TEMPERANCE - Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
    • 2. SILENCE - Speak not what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
    • 3. ORDER - Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
    • 4. RESOLUTION - Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
    • 5. FRUGALITY - Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e. waste nothing.
    • 6. INDUSTRY - Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
    • 7. SINCERITY - Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and if you speak, speak accordingly.
    • 8. JUSTICE - Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
    • 9. MODERATION - Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
    • 10. CLEANLINESS - Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths or habitation.
    • 11. TRANQUILITY - Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
    • 12. CHASTITY - Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or to the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
    • 13. HUMILITY - Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


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