aish.com > Spirituality > Personal Growth

Finding Serenity

May 9, 2009 | by Zelig Pliskin

Overcoming the common myths in mastering the state of serenity.

There are two myths that work against mastery of serenity.

Myth One: Believing that serenity is a gift that either you possess or do not
possess. Some people are born with serenity and are fortunate. Someone who is
not naturally serene has little hope of changing. This misconception is a
major block.

Truth: Serenity is a learnable skill. Every normal human being has the
ability to learn the basics. Your brain creates serenity or its opposite. If
you frequently experience stress, anxiety, tension, frustration, anger, and
other unresourceful states, these are created by the way that you use your
brain. You have amazing potential to condition your brain so that you
frequently create and access the state of serenity, along with other
resourceful states such as joy, courage, and patience. With knowledge and
persistence everyone has the potential to gain greater mastery over his
emotional states. Anyone who claims that he cannot is just saying that he has
not yet learned this skill.

Myth Two: Believing that only when someone is in a perfectly peaceful
environment can one maintain serenity.

Truth: Yes, it is much easier to be serene when you are in an ideal place with
a peaceful atmosphere. Yes, it is much easier to be serene when all the people
you interact with are rational, kind, and calm. Nevertheless, even when the
external environment is far from being optimally fit for serenity, we have the
ability to create an inner serenity and to resiliently bounce back when we
temporarily lose it.

SERENITY IS UP TO YOU

Step one for serenity mastery is to accept the concept that you personally can
increase your level of serenity. Since serenity is within you and is created
by your thoughts, you can learn the patterns that are conducive for serenity
and eliminate limiting patterns.

While doing research for this book, I asked people, "What stops you from being serene?"

I received many answers:

  • "I'm not serene because I wasn't born that way."
  • "My family was dysfunctional."
  • "My parents were high achievers and were always busy and in a rush."
  • "My business is highly competitive."
  • "I find school work difficult."
  • "I have financial pressures."
  • "I have so much to learn and I am constantly behind."
  • "I have a busy schedule."
  • "There are so many people who irritate and frustrate me."
  • "Everyone in my profession experiences premature burnout."

No one answered, "I'm not serene because I haven't yet learned and mastered
this skill." Since serenity is up to each individual, this is the only accurate
answer. When you put in the effort to master serenity, in retrospect you will
be grateful that you did.

DON'T BUY INTO NEGATIVE ATTITUDES OF OTHERS

Working on developing the attitudes, perspectives, evaluations, frames and
reframes that are conducive for serenity can take time and effort to master.
Even after you put in the necessary energy, you must guard against acquiring
others' unresourceful and counterproductive ways of looking at things. You
would not pay money to buy these attitudes, so do not accept them even when
they are given to you for free.

Being aware of the attitudes and outlooks that are life enhancing will make
you more sensitive to what others say about situations and events. Some of the
things you hear will further your quest for serenity. Other statements,
opinions, and points of view are stress builders. Add the positive positions
to your own mental library. And disregard those that are negative and
counterproductive.

If you are like most people, you already have unresourceful perspectives and
evaluations that you acquired from others. They may have become part of your
own thinking and you may consider them to be the objective reality. As soon as
you are aware of a needlessly negative perspective, ask yourself, "How can I
view this in a wiser, better way?"

Some common negative attitudes are:

  • "When this or that happens, you just have to become stressed out."
  • "There's nothing one can do to change their feelings about this."
  • "Your feelings are sacrosanct regardless of what those feelings are."
  • "Your initial reaction is your true reality. Don't think you can fool
    yourself to try to change it."
  • "Everyone I know views things this way so I must also be nervous and
    upset."

These are subjective limiting frames. You never have to be stressed out
unless you are physically exhausted. And even then you can feel calm about it.
We have a tremendous ability to change our feelings about things. Feelings are
all temporary, based on how we presently perceive a situation. New and better
perspectives and outlooks are always within our reach. The moment you change
your thought, your nervous system changes how you feel. Life-enhancing
thoughts create life-enhancing feelings. Even if this is only a subtle shift,
you are moving in the right direction...

Excerpted from Rabbi Pliskin's book "Serenity: Tools for personal growth." Published by ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications Ltd., Brooklyn, NY. Click here to order the book.




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