Back in the early seventies I became accustomed to seeing posters on apartment walls which featured the Serenity Prayer, usually with a scenic landscape as background. For whatever reason I saw it mostly in females’ apartments.
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.
The pithy sentence has been attributed to a sermon by German theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, but there are other theories; we’ll never know for sure. The saying was adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and it is commonly recited at the beginning of many AA meetings.
I got a kick out of finding this 1695 nursery rhyme, which expresses similar sentiments:
For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.
Here’s a rather wordy poster chock-full of well-meaning advice:
One sentence from that poster applies to everyone who would like to find a soul-mate, and there are hordes of them out there. Look at the profusion of dating and matchmaking web-sites!
If you are looking for the love of your life, stop. They will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love.
The power of such inspirational and pithy apothegms has its limits, though. Unless real action is taken in your life, both in how you choose to live it and in how you interact with other people whose lives are intertwined with yours, the end result of reading such sayings can be a fleeting feeling of vague inspiration followed by the resumption of well-entrenched dead-end life-choices.
Personally I don’t like aphorisms and such-like on my walls. After a while you just don’t see them; they become background noise. But, to each his own!