Thursday, January 3, 2008

What Serenity Isn't

Serenity, like "me time," is a much overused word. In the wrong hands (say, advertisers), it's a buzz word, devoid of meaning and used like a sledge hammer to bully you into buying the latest aromatherapy kits. So I think it's important, before we go too far down this path, to remember what serenity isn't:

* It isn't blissful happiness.
Serenity doesn't promise you a rose garden, it doesn't bring you flowers, or any other torch song cliche. Feeling good and feeling serene aren't the same thing, but it's nice when they intersect.

* It isn't getting everything you want.
Sure, you may feel great (see above) when you get everything you want. But remember when you were a child? If you're Christian and if you grew up in a middle-class family, you may recall the high you got from getting everything you wanted on Christmas morning. But after that high, what happened? First, you took a nap because your adrenaline crashed and zapped your energy. And then you wanted more. You'll always want more. Getting what you want doesn't create calm or centeredness. And yes, I'll add that cautionary cliche: Sometimes getting everything you want can rob you of serenity.

* It isn't having a day where everything goes smoothly.
If you're juggling kids and work, you can be forgiven for thinking that serenity is a day when the kid doesn't throw up on his new outfit on the way to see out-of-town relatives, dinner doesn't burn and at midnight you're not attached to your computer, answering a million emails. Still, that's not really serenity. That's reduced stress--which is great all on its own.

I once read something that went something like this:

Our lives became unmanageable when the car wouldn't start, our spouse wouldn't do what we said or the computer broke.

Get the sarcasm? The point is that that stuff happens. That's life. Serenity doesn't give you a get-out-of-life-free card. In fact, it's that misconception that makes serenity seem so unattainable. If that's your definition, then serenity can only be achieved by cloistered nuns or yogis on a hilltop.

And that brings me to the most important thing that serenity isn't:

* Serenity isn't an action item.
Serenity was never meant to be another item on your to-do list. It's a means to accomplishing the things on your list because it clears away the clutter of fear and anxiety.

You can do that by creating a serenity practice, by practicing breathing techniques and by getting clarity about your personal and business needs through your business plan. And you can learn to let go, among other things. In tomorrow's post, I'll write about another way to find serenity.

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