Serenity is a state of calmness, a quietness of mind and a peacefulness of mind. Serenity isn’t a state of hiding from the world or the pressures of it, bur a transcendence of those pressures.
The pressures are still there, but we’re able to meet them and their accompanying challenges without suffering nervousness, stress, or dread.
It sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? Images of meditation, quiet walks by a lakeshore, and a placid setting all go together when we think of the word “serenity”—but that really isn’t what serenity is about.
Serenity is a state of mind, not a physical location.
Serenity doesn’t just happen. It isn’t a gift that gets doled out to a lucky few. Achieving a serene state of being takes work, but it can indeed be learned by anyone.
Serenity takes place when we learn to disassociate ourselves from worry, anxiety and chaos. In short, serenity occurs when we let go of the things that are disturbing us—those things that our thoughts keep going back to over and over.
So often we allow our minds to be drawn back to disturbing and self-defeating thoughts, like the tongue will keep pressing and probing a sore spot inside the mouth. Serenity short-circuits that process.
Often the thoughts that create worry are years old and concern things that are way beyond our control. Situations that went wrong in the past, regrets, guilt, anger—I don’t mean to oversimplify the complexity of our minds, but we have to let all those things from the past go.
They can’t help us, they can only harm us, and for the most part, they’re not relevant to our lives today. Let go of the past.
The future? Beyond logical and rational planning for ourselves in the future (saving some money, investing in ourselves with education, developing our curiosity about the rapidly changing world), we have to let our worries about the future go, too.
We have less control over it than we imagine. What you cannot control, you must release.
Now, in the present, you might ask me if I want you to turn a blind eye to illness or other dangerous situations. No, far from it. The natural response to a clear and present danger in one’s life is fear, not worry.
If someone is robbing me, I’m not worried about it—I’m afraid! I’m not playing a word game here—fear and worry are two distinct psychological states. Anxiety and worry often seem like fear, but fear requires a real danger to be present.
Those things that cause us sleepless nights and haunted days are so often inside our heads alone.
That brings me to another point—to achieve serenity, we have to realize that much of the world exists only in our minds. That isn’t crazy—that’s how the mind works. We perceive the world through our senses, but the values we give to different aspects of the world are entirely up to us.
Over time, the world we inhabit is a world we’ve made on our own—a world of our perceptions. When our internal perceptions of external reality get distorted, so does our thinking, and all too often, the results are anxiety and worry.
Serenity takes a larger view of the world, and in some degree, is a bit more objective, less “me” centered.
So how do we get there from here? Be sure to check the next post!