Throughout my life, I’ve experienced many extremes.
I’ve been blissfully happy and deeply despondent. I’ve felt supremely confident and utterly worthless. I’ve buzzed with energy and been completely listless.
Extremes are part of life and are something we all experience. Obviously, the positive extremes are preferable, right? We want to feel good, not bad.
What about another option? Instead of chasing elusive and fleeting feelings, we can aspire to serenity—a more consistent positive feeling that, with practice, is not fleeting, but something that we can feel all the time.
Serenity has always been one of my main goals. However, a little part of me has always felt that by obtaining serenity, I was giving up other aspects of my life: intensity, euphoria, and passion. Is it possible to be serene and still have all these things in our lives?
The answer is a resounding yes. We can understand and more fully experience our intensity if we incorporate serenity. We can feel a meaningful, deep, and abiding happiness, rather than a glimmer of euphoria. We can be passionate and fully understand what that passion means to us and how we can incorporate it into our lives.
Elements of Serenity
Like any worthwhile skill, serenity takes practice.
What does it take to achieve serenity? There are four key elements:
Perspective. It’s so easy to let life’s little irritations and difficulties get to us. To achieve serenity consistently, we have to keep our troubles in perspective. We need to understand and appreciate the significance of events in our lives and not allow them to drive our emotional state.
Presence. To be serene we have to be present in the moment. Don’t let your mind run wild with worries, deadlines, or commitments. Don’t allow regrets about the past or concerns about the future dominate your thoughts. Stay in tune with the moment and be aware of how you feel and what you’re doing right now. Be comfortable in the now and allow yourself to just be.
Self-Awareness. To be serene, we must understand our feelings and why we react the way we do. We have to know what we care about and how to meaningfully experience those things. We have to engage in activities like meditation or reflection that help us know ourselves better. Through self-awareness, we will realize what makes us tick, and our reactions and feelings will not be unexpected.
Gratitude. Acknowledge and appreciate what we have. It’s so easy to take things for granted that we lose sight of the people in our lives, our health, our opportunities, and our accomplishments. We can’t allow our thoughts and feelings to be dominated by what we don’t have and what we haven’t yet achieved. We must be thankful for everything we do have.
Through serenity, we are able to take the events in our lives in stride and incorporate those elements that bring us meaning and happiness. At the same time, we can allow those elements that anger us or make us sad to fall by the wayside.
Serenity allows us to experience intense emotions but keep them in perspective. It allows us to take the positive aspects of our lives and incorporate them more consistently and meaningfully.
When I am serene, I am more truly myself.