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Control What You Can & Accept and Use What You Can’t

Cultivating optimistic attitudes and actions is not only the focus of many of my programs and books. It is important to me in handling all aspects of my life.

One of its guiding truths that has served me well comes from what has been affectionately called The Serenity Prayer, a simple but powerful statement that was written by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. Taken back by the impact of his words, he confessed in The Essential Reinhold Niebuhr: Selected Essays and Addresses: “… The embarrassment, particularly, was occasioned by the incessant correspondence about a prayer I had composed years before, which the old Federal Council of Churches had used and which later was printed on small cards to give to soldiers. Subsequently Alcoholics Anonymous adopted it as its official prayer. The prayer reads: ‘God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.’” I have a feeling that Niebuhr would have preferred being famous for his books, but this powerful prayer went viral long before there was any social media.

Over the years, The Serenity Prayer has been shortened, memorized and repeated privately and publicly –because it captures important truths that work. Treasured statements like these — that stand the test of time — deliver wisdom with a simplicity that makes every word count. Whether you believe in God or not, appreciate the value and depth of this statement and the sentiments it promotes. If you ever hope to be an optimist in training, you must learn how to accept and maximize your reaction to the both the blessings and the adversity that come your way and take responsibility for managing your own motivation, attitudes and actions in a way that makes a difference in the quality of your life…and in how you treat and lead others.

On the personal front, my mother is now 90 years old. My father died last year, taking from her not only her beloved husband but her link to the world around her. Mom is facing a loss of her memory. The diagnosis is not important, but the impact on her life is critical. She needs care, but she still can enjoy meaningful moments if those who care risk making them so. Instead of being frustrated with what I can’t control, I find comfort in trying to make my time with her a positive experience. I know she won’t remember, but I will.

In business, the national economy continues to limp along on its way to eventual recovery. The trick is not bemoaning it or waiting for it to improve; it is doing what you can every day to play a poor hand well. I may not be able to change the economy, but I can work to change my own by acting in a way that both creates and takes advantage of opportunities I do find. That is why, in this email message, I’m pointing you to experience a free recording of my recent 60-minute webinar, “Leveraging Optimism and Resilience to Make Life Work,” on The reaction to those attending live was exceptional. Take advantage when you need a little attitude lift!

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