My recent homework assignment was to pick a positive emotion and create a portfolio to help me cultivate that emotion. I chose serenity since I have recently learned that I’m a ruminator – I “chew on” and worry about things past the point of usefulness. I want to improve my serenity during times of stress.
The portfolio requires that you compile poems, songs, images, things, ideas, mementos, whatever that brings you this positive emotion. You are to spend a little time every day for a week to create the portfolio, then use your portfolio every day for another week to try to build that emotion.
Here is a sample of what I put in my portolio:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu
“There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”
― G.K. Chesterton
“We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy. If we are to die in a minute, why not die happily, laughing? (136-137)”
― Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras
“Change what cannot be accepted and accept what cannot be changed.”
― Reinhold Niebuhr
Pure Moods/new age music
Sound of my water or wind chimes
Sound of my dogs’ breath while sleeping
Sound of ocean or river
My living room with dogs
Couch with my sweetie
Hot bubble bath
Swimming in or walking by the ocean or river
Sitting down and waiting for cookies to come out of the oven
Seeing my family around the dining room table
Waking up from a nap on a quiet afternoon
Sitting outside and smelling the fresh air
Meditation or playing piano
The Five Promises
Power of Now and anything Eckhart Tolle
I learned that simply putting together the portfolio created serenity in me, and the exercise itself made me more aware of how I was feeling at the moment. I tried to be intentional about noting when I was feeling serene and when I was not. I have already been in the habit of retreating to the bathtub to relax and center myself, but I have also been much more proactive about noticing and savoring the things that do bring me peace. As a result, I believe I’m on a much more even keel then I was before I started the exercise.
The real test is when I get on the phone with an obstructive customer service representative. Wish me luck!