Niebuhr’s Dictum

We win the victory over the
world by means of our faith.
                 —1 John 5:4

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.

With these twenty-seven words, Reinhold Niebuhr zeroed in on two circumstances we all encounter: things that cannot be changed, and things that can be.

Some things can’t be changed, no matter how intensely we wish they could: an unsolvable family conflict, an illness that won’t surrender to treatment, the death of a loved one.

On the other hand, some things can be changed: a destructive habit, a cynical attitude, a touchy disposition—things within our control.

Never too bad, never too old,
never too late to change.

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