Terry Paulson

As we start the new year, it might be wise to center ourselves on a perspective that has provided comfort and direction for millions of people since written in 1942—“The Serenity Prayer.”

Though at times attributed to others, used in many variants and never formally copyrighted, most attribute the prayer to Reinhold Niebuhr. Niebuhr was a protestant theologian best known for his work in relating the Christian faith to the reality of modern politics and diplomacy.

Commenting, let me use in three parts the full version that Niebuhr's widow has reported he himself preferred:

“God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.”

A University of Michigan study documented that 95% of what people worry about is wasted effort; only five percent of worries are justifiable. Accept what you can’t control and invest your worry time in making a difference on your five percent! After all, much of what is happening today is mostly beyond your control. The deficit, taxes, natural calamities, the actions of terrorists and politicians, and the stock market just dent the surface of the obvious things.

Don’t wait for politicians to act. Focus on controlling the one thing you do control—your choices in how you position yourself for opportunity, improve your performance of your most valued and critical skills and persist in repositioning and retooling as is necessary. Don’t send around resumes for skills that are no longer necessary. Invest 5% of your time in your plan B—developing new skills to match the needs of our age.

Don’t know where to begin? Go to www.elance.com and look at what jobs people are paying independent contractors to accomplish. If you have gifts that can be put to good use, bid on a project and join the world economy one project at a time. If you don’t have those skills, get busy turning your gifts into something people will pay you to do. After all, you become an old dog when you stop doing new tricks!

America voted in November, but you can vote again in 2010 and 2012. President-elect Obama will have an opportunity to put his domestic and foreign policies into action. You are not powerless; stay informed and engage in the political debate our freedom allows. Vote principles and results, not rhetoric!

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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