The first line of the Serenity Prayer says, "God, GRANT me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change..." which indicates to me, that serenity is not something that comes from within, but something that has to be given to me.
For me, serenity began when I finally began to learn to distinguish between those things that I could change and those I could not. When I admitted that there were people, places, things, and situations over which I was totally powerless, those things began to lose their power over me.
I learned that everyone has the right to make their own mistakes, and learn from them, without my interference or assistance! The key to serenity is acceptance. But "acceptance" does not mean that I have to like it, or condone it or even ignore it. What it does mean is I am powerless to do anything about it, and I have to accept that. I MUST accept it!
Arguing with a Disease
I spent years trying to change the alcoholics in my life. I threatened, scolded, manipulated, coerced, pleaded, begged, bribed and generally tried all I could to make the situation better only watch as the situation grew progressively worse only to hang on while the abuse progressed and the pain increased.
For me, acceptance came when I finally realized that I was dealing with a disease. Somebody told me, "You can't argue with a disease." That helped me change my attitude about the problem. It freed me up from the "responsibility" of trying to do the impossible, from trying to control the uncontrollable.
I finally realized that it was NOT MY JOB to change someone else. That acceptance alone has brought me a great deal of serenity that was never there before, but was granted to me by the help and friendship I have been privileged to enjoy in Al-Anon... and a power greater than myself.