Serenity, Courage and Wisdom

So, I am getting ready to give a talk tomorrow about the Humanist Approach to Happiness to a CFI group in Tampa. Should be fun. And one of the organizers posted this article on his facebook page. The article is all about how living in the moment will help us be happier. The author quotes heavily from the famous Humanist psychologist Albert Ellis. And no, I haven’t actually read any of his stuff and yes, that is kind of ironic considering I am a Humanist dispensing advice on how to lead a happier, more productive life through Humanism. I deal with common sense, ok?

Anyway –while I basically agree with the whole “living in the moment” idea in theory, in practice, it has limited application. The problem is that encouraging people to live in the moment is akin to telling people to just accept their lot in life, and Humanists simply don’t accept the status quo if the status quo involves suffering.

The Humanist philosophy is largely centered on the concept of human agency, the idea that we humans have the ability to make choices and change our fates as a result. So, if we are in an abusive relationship, we don’t have to just accept it, we can choose to leave that relationship and find something better. Telling someone in an abusive relationship that the best way to deal with it is to simply live in the moment and not think about the future is not just ludicrous it is downright cruel.

What is needed is balance and wisdom, which is why I think the Serenity Prayer is perhaps the simplest way to express the Humanist approach. Just take out the word "God" and consider this a personal affirmation.

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; and Wisdom to know the difference.

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