Serenity is life’s supreme accomplishment. It’s not about living life without storms, it’s about finding peace and joy in spite of them.
According to James Allen, serenity is the supreme accomplishment. In his classic essay, “As a Man Thinketh,” he describes how we shape our lives by our thoughts, and how we create a life of joy and bliss by thinking lawfully… or we create a life of misery through unlawful thoughts.
This means that true prosperity is built, not upon principles of competition and brute ambition, but upon principles of successful right-thinking.
Let’s take a look:
The Law of Polarity guarantees that contained in every adversity is the seed of equal or greater benefit, so by law, there is good to be found in all circumstances. That’s why joy and misery are simply NOT determined by what happens to you.
This is proven by the fact that there are rich people who are miserable, and poor people who are full of joy. By the same token, there are poor people who are miserable, and rich people who are full of joy.
In all areas of life, it comes down to this: “Unfortunate” people can be miserable, or they can be joyful, if for no other reason than because the law guarantees the potential exists for both poles in every circumstance.
(Clinical depression or other mental illness can make it nearly impossible for a person to find or access the seed of equal or greater benefit contained in their adversity. If you feel this way, watch this.)
Some of our greatest joys come from growing and becoming all we can be. Growth feels good. It’s what defines us as “living”. So, if the lack of money prevents us from doing that, then we should use the fundamental principles of prosperity to obtain plenty of money. If the lack of positive relationships prevents us from doing that, then we should use the principles to improve our relationships. We can even use the principles to improve our health: physical, mental, and spiritual.
How is this done?
We must first realize that our thoughts are the only domain over which we have ultimate control. We must also acknowledge the fact that all areas of our life are affected by our thoughts. Something happens, and so we respond to it. But how do we respond? It all goes back to how we thought about the situation, and the resultant actions spawned by those thoughts.
We cannot respond gracefully to setbacks if we do not first think graceful thoughts. We cannot turn a bad situation around unless we first think of ways to turn it around.
Success always begins in the mind. (And so does failure.)
That’s why I’m convinced that the most important thing we can do is learn to control our thoughts. True peace and tranquility can be obtained in no other way than through self-mastery:
SELF-mastery, not ENVIRONMENT-mastery.
So when we stop waiting for our circumstances to improve, and instead make peace with—in other words—find happiness with, the way things are NOW, then The Law of Cause and Effect kicks in, and the world begins to soften towards us.
Sometimes making peace with the mess we’re in now is the only way our circumstances will ever improve.
But it’s a scary thing, to make peace with disaster, to come to terms with ruin.
We’re so afraid to go there, because we think it means we’re giving up; and if we give up, then maybe it also means that all hope is completely lost.
But it’s just not true.
Remember, it’s how you THINK that determines what happens next. So if you THINK that making peace with disaster or coming to terms with ruin means irreversible failure, then you’ll never let yourself go there. And that’s what keeps a lot of people stuck.
But what if I were to tell you the truth: that happiness, progress, victory, and goal achievement are ALL waiting on the other side of your coming to terms with the mess you’re in, and finding happiness just the way things are? What if I told you that you should let go of the need for your environment, pocketbook, health, or relationships to change?
Do you dare go there?
What if nothing EVER changed? Can you imagine that? What if I were to tell you that the way things are, are exactly the way things will be for the rest of your life?
How much time would you spend grieving? How long would you let yourself be angry?
And then what?
After a period of grieving, you would be different. We are designed to recover. We were born with the capacity to adjust, and adapt to change. It’s a natural process, in fact. Once we let ourselves give up on waiting for things to change, we can fight it and prolong the pain, but ultimately our systems are physiologically programmed to cycle through all of the stages of grief until we come to acceptance.
The Stages of Grief:
- shock or disbelief
And so we go there (if only just in our minds), and then here we are: having made peace with the way things are NOW.
This is where Nature, the world around us, notices we have changed, and because of the Law of Cause and Effect, it begins to soften towards us.
It’s about finding peace in the storm. Not peace without a storm, but peace in spite of the storm. Greater success then becomes a natural byproduct of our increased serenity.
Ironically, if your serenity is real, and you’ve genuinely given yourself to the process, then it won’t matter to you if you gain more success, because you’re already happy with or without it.
Besides, isn’t happiness the reason for our pursuit of success to begin with?
In conclusion, let me just say this:
We will continue to face challenges. It’s a necessary part of life, because without opposition we do not gain experience, strength, or wisdom. Adversity is a blessing, and when we begin to accept and embrace it for what it is, we begin to experience the peace and prosperity that is ours to enjoy. Life just gets better.
It reminds me of the story of the farmer who complained that everything was always bad. God thought, “You think you have it bad now? Hmmmm. I’ll show you! I’ll show you what bad really is!” and so things got worse for the farmer.
On the other hand, another farmer expressed gratitude for everything, even his hardships, even without understanding why the hardships were good. He prayed: “Thank you for the challenge, because it helps me grow.” God thought, “You think you have it good? Hmmmm. I’ll show you! I’ll show you what good really is!” and things only got better for the farmer.
So just remember:
“The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.” —James Allen
For more on this topic, visit How to Surrender (and why you’d want to). Originally published July 29, 2006