Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Serenity to Accept...

If a problem has a solution, there is no need to worry. If a problem has no solution, there is no need to worry. –The Dalai Lama

My cousin sent me this true story about a bear rescued from a bridge.

The bear was walking across the Rainbow Bridge on old Highway 40 in California. The bridge spans a dry gulch. Two cars crossing the bridge from opposite directions scared the bear and it clambered over the side only to find itself on a narrow ledge with no way back up and no way down. Falling or jumping meant certain death on the rocks far below. Although authorities were called, they could do nothing and they left the bear to its fate. The next day, they came back to see what had happened and found the bear sound asleep on the ledge. With renewed resolve, they rigged a net under the bear, tranquilized it, and lowered it to the ground where it woke up and calmly walked away.

Now that was an enlightened bear. It found itself in an impossible situation with no immediate solution. Instead of freaking out over something it could not control, and in spite of its dire circumstances, it took a nap.

That bear is my model for the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the first part of the Serenity Prayer. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

How can we attain the serenity to accept the things we cannot change? Once we have acquired the wisdom to know the difference between what we can and can’t control (The Wisdom to Know the Difference), why can’t we just focus on the courage to change the things we can (The Courage to Change), and let go of the rest? Where does that urge to control the things we can’t control come from?

For me, at least, I think it comes from fear. Fear blocks my serenity, so I need to address that fear before I can serenely accept anything. Does fear block your serenity? Let’s think about what we are afraid of and where that fear comes from.

To be continued....

In the meantime, I think I’ll take a nap!

If you would like to see some pictures and read more about the bear, click here.


  1. Fear has often blocked my serenity. It sparks my anxiety, and spirals out from there. I often find that instead of scaring myself with the multitudes of potential paths that lead to unpredictable ends... making a decision. Just one. Coming to that conclusion, and sticking to it, helps me immensely and allows me to resume my calm.

  2. Fear always blocks my serenity and I have to dig back and back to find the origins, but it is worth it.
    I loved the bear story - and I just got up from a nap, because it was raining so hard I could not get going - then I walked in the 40 minutes of dry and now it is raining buckets again...
    ah good advice and words here

  3. Ah fear. Yes. Here on the precipice of my life I have sometimes panicked. But the bear was right to nap until the solution presented itself. It always does. Faith is the "knowing" that it will. Thanks Galen... a good reminder to take that nap :-)

  4. Hi Galen,

    That is a lovely story about the bear. There is so much we can learn from nature and animals if we just bother to pay attention. Since nature has been around much longer than we have been, it holds many answers to the problems of life. And often, the solution is simpler than we imagine it to be.

    The example of the bear is indeed enlightened in dealing with its situation. Where one has tried all ways and means to deal with a problem, the only option left is to rest until we can think of something new. There is always the problem of trying to hard to resolve an issue and as your serenity prayer states, we have to know when to let go.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! :)

    Irving the Vizier

  5. I love the Dalai Lama's quote. I think I'll stick it on my fridge as a constant reminder. Thanks for posting!

  6. HavenNyx--Making a decision can certainly stop the endless fretting...if you can refrain from second guessing yourself! Thank you for your comment.

    Patricia--Yes, I think fear and the urge to control, which blocks our serenity, are closely linked. Personally I would like to just skip right to serenity, but I know I have to address my fear first.

    Jean--That bear is amazing. What a model of enlightened serenity! Of faith! I wonder what would have happened if no rescue had come. Can we continue to have faith in the perfection of the universe if our desired outocme doesn't happen? Thank you for your comment.

    Irving--I like what you said about the solution often being simple. I like to think that the bear would have remained serene even if no rescue came. If we can face our death with serenity, then everything else is easy. Maybe! Thank you for your comment.

    Kara--I like that quote, too! Thank you for your comment.

  7. Beautiful post Galen! Fear is indeed a block to serenity. If we analyse our fears, talk to them, reason with them, thank them for the concern - then make decissions based on strength then surely serenity will be ours. Thanks Galen!

  8. Dandy--Once again we are in sync. This is getting spooky. Just as I saw that you had left this comment, I was working on my next post, which picks up exactly the point you are making about our interaction with our fears. I am enjoying our exchange of cyber energy! Thank you.

  9. That bear was pretty smart in my book. You are right Fear is what makes us want to control. When I am in this situation I do a little mediating and say over and over again, "Let go and let God." I just give him the control and I take a nap. LOL
    Love the story we can learn from it. Thank you Debbie

  10. Debbie--I love your name. Debbie Happy Maker. It suggests that you are responsible for your own happiness and also that you spread happiness wherever you go. Thank you for your comment.


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