Things We Change and Those We Can’t

“That I may have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

I’m not very religious but for the past two weeks, I have found myself repeating this quote over and over. The hardest part for me isn’t how to distinguish between what we can change and what we can’t (although it still irks me when someone flat out says that it is impossible to change something without even trying). The hardest part is to have the serenity, the patience, and the calmness to accept the things I cannot change. I struggle to let go of the things I think can be ameliorated, because otherwise, I would feel hopeless. It’s the determination to not feel out of control or or hopeless that impedes me from accepting the fact that there are some things I simply cannot change or make better.

One of my good friends is currently recovering from a concussion that has not gotten better for more than two weeks. He can neither watch TV, read more than 15 minutes at a time, nor do anything stimulating as they make his headaches worse. He jokingly says that he is turning into a vegetable, but he still follows doctor’s order and rests, though it is agonizing for him not to do anything “productive”.

I admire his spirit a lot. He cannot change how fast his brain will recover, but he has accepted the fact that it is outside of his control. Besides resting a lot and not exerting too much physical or mental force, there is not much he can do. He cannot will his brain to recover -that will just have the opposite effect. If I were in his position, I (the person who went straight back to school literally the minute anesthesia worn off after an intense 1.5 hour surgery) would rage against the world. I would blatantly ignore doctor’s order and do my own thing. I hate the feeling of hopelessness and without control and I would do anything to escape these emotions.

I’m working on being more like my friend and be more accepting of things I cannot change with my own current situation. It’s frustrating. It has made me kick the wall a few times in silent anger. But at the end, it will make me a better person.


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