Serenity Prayer For Finances

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.

These last few months have been trying times for me, personally and financially.  Several things have happened to create sort of a “perfect storm” in my life and when that happens I always look for some piece of inspiration–something to keep me on track. I found that peace in The Serenity Prayer, and have applied its lessons to my personal finances and beyond.

God Grant Me the Serenity To Accept the Things I Cannot Change

Stop and think for a moment about all the things that are currently causing stress in your financial life.  I bet there are quite a few you have control over, like overspending or expensive car payments.  But if you are like me there may be other things that are outside of your control, yet they continue to cause stress. Here are some examples I have witnessed recently from others:

  • The stock market losses.  If you are in the market for the long haul there is little you can do to hedge against these wild swings (mostly downward swings) over the last few months.  Instead of worrying over stock tickers incessantly, try to put it out of your mind and remember that you have a long-term perspective.
  • Political landscape.  I’m not the best one to be advising others not be stressed over politics.  I used to be a politics junkie, listening to talk radio and news most of the day.  But over the last couple years I have unplugged from a lot of it.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle have abandoned fiscal conservatism, as the recent bailouts have shown, and the more I listen to politicians finding ways to spend our hard-earned tax dollars, the higher my blood pressure gets!
  • The financial situation of others.  Many people lie awake at night and worry over other people’s financial problems–their parents, their kids, their best friend, etc.  While it is healthy to show some concern, it is healthier to recognize that they make their own decisions freely, and the best thing you can do is be a supportive father, son or friend.

The Courage To Change the Things I Can

When you have identified the things you do have control over you must find the courage to make changes in your life.  For example, if you are unhappy with your current salary, what strategies are within your control to increase that number?  Chances are your boss isn’t just going to give you a raise for no reason.  You may have to return to school to finish your degree, or agree to take on some additional training related to your job.  You may have to start your own side hustle.  All of these things take courage because they are outside of our comfort zone.

The Wisdom To Know the Difference

Most of us are aware of the types of things that cause us stress, and the thing that don’t.  The challenge is placing a new challenge in our lives into one of those two categories.  It is this “wisdom to know the difference” that makes ALL the difference.  Chances are right now you are worrying over things that are not within your control, and not worrying about things that are within your control.

I encourage you to reflect on the things that are now causing stress in your life.  Take some time to jot them down on a piece of paper, and then really search deep down to figure out which column they belong in–things you cannot change, and things you can.  Then get busy developing a plan to change those things you can.  You will feel better just for having gone through the exercise.

Comments

  1. Inspiring advice and help. It is important to realize that we won’t be able to change some things, and that there are others that are well within our purview to improve. It’s all about knowing the difference — and then focusing on the things we can change.

  2. I especially appreciate what you said about worrying about the financial problems of others. I have missed sleep over the last few months worrying about the financial issues of two close friends. I have tried to be conscious of the fact that many of their problems were created by their own decisions, but it’s still hard to see how much pain and worry there is. It’s interesting, too, that I have at times felt guilty over our financial success in the face of their problems. However, I do know that our success is the direct result of two things: the simple blessing of God and our own sound decisions and hard work. We have worked jobs that we didn’t particularly care for at times and have just done the ‘right’ things, even when it wasn’t fun and may not have been following our ‘dream’. Funny, it turns out my ‘dream’ is to be totally debt-free (currently our only debt is our mortgage) and be financially independent.

    Thanks for your blog!

  3. I like your comment about ‘worrying about the financial situation of others’
    I always worry about a certain family member – well, I have to admit, I DID co-sign a loan … oops!
    At the end of the day, you can’t change their spending habits. They have to recognize the problem and want to change it themselves.

  4. Good article. Facing the reality that the stock market and housing prices are not coming back anytime soon is hard to do. I’m not sure we will ever accept this realize.

  5. Excellent post! There are so many huge things that seem to be headed our way. The Serenity Prayer just breaks it down so beautifully and clearly. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. I use the Serenity Prayer daily in my meditations. I have been told that my responsibility ends at the tip of my finger so if it has to do with another person or situation, it isn’t up to me to control it. I have a big enough job taking care of myself. Another good one is Easy Does It. Also knowing that if I have air, food, and shelter, I have all that I need and everything else will work out..or it will work out. :-)

  7. I really like how you categorized these things. It puts some back into perspective. If there is something that we can make an improvement on it’s up to us and only us to make the change.

  8. I find it useful in all areas of my Life. Finances, friendships, family, relationships, health, job, etc.
    Also, Gratitude not Resentment, works for me also.

  9. I actually had my sister create a piece of art for me that contains The Serenity Prayer. It has always been one of my favorites because it applies to just about everything. Being from a large family I frequently worry about my sibling’s financial situation…I just need to remember the Serenity Prayer and realize it’s something I have no control over.

  10. Great post FD.

    The uncredited expanded version has some great stuff too.

    God grant me the serenity
    To accept the things I cannot change;
    Courage to change the things I can;
    And wisdom to know the difference.

    Living one day at a time;
    Enjoying one moment at a time;
    Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
    Taking, as He did, this sinful world
    As it is, not as I would have it;
    Trusting that He will make all things right
    If I surrender to His Will;
    So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
    And supremely happy with Him
    Forever and ever in the next.

  11. Great thoughts. I’ve always taken comfort in the fact that God never gives us more than we can handle, although it can be extremely frustrating at times when things you can’t control, just keep popping up.

    For us there were medical issues this year that kept popping up, and keeping us from getting ahead. In the end they made us stronger though, and we’re doing better than ever now. Keep strong, keep the faith, and God will help you through.

  12. I respectfully disagree about putting your stock market losses out of your mind. Move your money out of the stock market. Put it somewhere safe. That money is gone forever, and this recession will get much worse before it gets better. Nouriel Roubini (has a website and weekly column on Forbes.com) has been right on about the events of the past 20 years. So has Nassim Taleb (author of The Black Swan). He hasn’t been sleeping at night. Educate yourself. They’ve both been on Charlie Rose. Sorry to be the voice of doom.

  13. well…sometimes G-d does give us more than we can handle. I have said, sincerely, to people who have a lot on their plate ‘ G-d must have a very high opinion of you’. i meant it with the utmost kindness and sincerity. then something hellish happened to me years later and when they said, equally kind and sincerely to me, ‘G-d has a very high opinion of you’ I thought ‘f*&( you’

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