We don’t have control over everything in our life. There are some things that are in the realm of our control and we can take charge and change them. While others — we simply have to accept them and work our way around them.
The serenity prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr is a guide for many of us as we go through the challenges of life: “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.”
But if we choose we can take a step further. Even when it comes to accepting, it can be either cheerful acceptance or a bitter one. And it serves us best in the long-term, to cultivate the former one.
The Stoics knew this truth and that’s why they advised to not only accept but be happy and grateful for the things that come your way. Even if things may not go according to your plan, it’s best to think that there’s a better plan, a grander one that is at work. As Epictetus said, “Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will— then your life will flow well.”
Marcus Aurelius too expressed the same sentiments in Meditations as he wrote, “All you need are these: certainty of judgment in the present moment; action for the common good in the present moment; and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way.”
Expressing gratitude for whatever comes our way (as hard as it may be), and reframing the adversities and challenges that we encounter into events and circumstances that happened for the best and giving a positive spin to them, can be a useful strategy to continue being our best self in this rollercoaster journey of life.
As the Persian poet and soul whisperer Rumi put it:
“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival…
Be grateful for whatever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”
PS: Today is the Thanksgiving holiday and it’s all about expressing gratitude. If you’d like to learn how an “attitude of gratitude” makes your life better, please go here. Happy Thanksgiving!