A few days before the stroke that killed my father, he quoted the well-known saying ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.’ We hugged each other and I drove away. I never spoke with him again.
In this quotation lie the seeds of a major principle – that there are many situations we are simply unable to change. Agonising about abolishing poverty and famine or wishing everyone could have good health is fruitless. On a much smaller scale we all have daily encounters that seem unfair. We may be stuck in a traffic jam or in the tube, or live in a high-rise tower-block in a crime-ridden city. These are situations we can change our reaction to. Can we find a way to use our travelling time more fruitfully? Have you tried everything to change your flat or have you become so resigned to the situation you no longer bother?
You may not be able to change a situation but you can change your response to it. Unlike politics, there is no third way. If the world will not change, accept it and adjust.