“I Have No Time for Serenity…As If I’ve Got Something Better to Do"
In a few minutes I have a meeting. I want my day to start as I usually start my day with reading and being contemplative – feeling into serenity so that I’m in it all day long.
However, in this particular morning, there isn’t time for serenity. I have to make preparations for this meeting. "Oh, I’ll just do a couple of these things on my list, that should be fine, then I’ll get back to my serenity." I grumped my way through each task and ended up doing all of them, not feeling serene or happy that I’m fully prepared for my meeting.
I’m noticing how I grump my way through a lot of my life tasks, as if I’ve got something better to do. Whether I’m brushing my teeth, weedwacking the back yard, preparing a podcast, there’s a voice inside saying, "Hurry up! We’ve got more other important things to do than this!”
With this new podcast series, seasonal things to take care of, clients and other aspects of life to attend to, I find myself in a state of angst more often than not. It is a state that is 180 degrees from serenity and peace. I know this place well – the state of angst. I thought I had it licked. But by the very nature of adding more items to my plate, the thought, "I’ve got to get this all done asap," wreaks havoc with serenity? What’s up with that?!
I wonder how many people say to themselves, "I can’t wait to retire so I can lay back and relax. I can live without the nagging obligations, and once and for all experience the tranquility and peace I truly desire."
I shared this inner dialog with some friends of mine who are retired and are in their 70’s. They shared my sentiments of always anticipating what needs to be done – or even what they want to get done, and the grumpiness that is prevalent regardless of what they are doing. And, they added that they know so many people who are retired that aren’t doing the things they want to do – in fact so many people that don’t know what it is they want to do, and so they grump their way through everyday tasks. They believe that someday they will be doing what they want to do. Until then, they will just have to grump.
Truthfully, it’s not the doing of things that is the problem; it’s the thoughts that underlie how we do what we do. And, over decades we have trained ourselves to live in the angst of so much to do – so little time. Unless we attend to this addictive pattern we developed and see it’s not the busyness that leads us to angst, but the way we live with the busyness.
Every recovery program, regardless of whether its for substance abuse, workaholics, codependency, or Adult Children, the 12 steps and the Serenity Prayer are seen as foundational to recovery. And, at the same time, when I hear people speak the 12 steps or the Serenity Prayer, it is usually in the manner of a droning, as if saying the Pledge of Allegiance – there’s no connection or passion with the words being said.
It’s as if they haven’t yet had the direct experience of serenity. It’s as if they have not allowed themselves the moment of seeing what they are powerless over, and where they can courageously choose to empower themselves to change the things they can. It’s as if they’ve never allowed themselves to know of the wisdom the resides within – their inner guru, if you will. So they feel trapped in feeling powerless over their state of angst.
Restless Irritable Discontent (RID)
In the AA Big Book, there is a phrase that basically says that the cause of all of our addictions is restless, irritable discontent. When I heard this I knew without a doubt that this was true. It was an epiphany for me personally and allowed me to begin to notice when I’m in a state of RID, and what addictive patterns I use to reduce the RID. This was one of the many beginnings to recovering and reclaiming serenity in my life.
But what is the source of our restless, irritable discontent? My experience personally and professionally is that the source more often than not is a thought and belief that says something like, "I should be different than what I am. That if I were different I would feel at peace, I would know what to do – always, and I would do the right thing at the right time, and I’d never make mistakes. I would never hurt anyone and I’d be safe from bad things happening to me." Well, that seems pretty hopeless, doesn’t it?!
In some ways, most of us are addicted to living in RID. Few of us truly know the experience of serenity, and fewer of us still live there most of our lives. That, in fact, is what has me currently be in my grumpiness. It’s as though I fell off the wagon of serenity and didn’t even realize that it happened. It’s as though I’ve returned to bingeing again on overwhelm, stress, and worry that I can’t get everything done on time.
My biggest fear when thinking about being more active with Podcasts and such is that I’d have more to do and I’d have less time in serenity and peace. And here I am, in the midst of what I feared most, which leads me to grump my way from one activity to the next.
Yesterday I had a session with my coach, and through that time with her I recovered some of my sanity and some ability to see that I’d forgotten that I can empower myself to let go of what I can’t change and can’t fix, and can’t make happen on demand. That was a relief. And, this morning the Serenity Prayer popped in, and it was as if a light went on. "Oh yeah. I lost my serenity. I know how to find it and bring it home again." And, that’s what I did!
So many aspects of what we call “aging” creates restless, irritable discontent. We feel powerless and hopeless, and grumpiness is an undercurrent of our lives. It’s as though we should have a 12-step program for aging (Aging Anonymous) that allows us to reclaim who we are and to recover our natural state of being – Peace and Serene.
As we age like gurus, we have the capacity to create that space of serenity and peace. I find that doing so transforms my state of being so that, whatever I’m doing, I’m content – not grumping through my life. I have no doubt that we are never too old to learn to make time for serenity.
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For more blogs, books and videos, or if you are interesting in coaching or training with Dr. Rosie, check out her website: www.theparadigmshifts.com