This morning I just caught the tail end of ‘Thought for the Day’ on Radio 4’s Today programme. A bishop was talking about serenity in the NHS in light of the health service’s 70th anniversary. I heard him say that ‘serenity was a rare word that needed to be revived’. Apparently the founder of the NHS, Aneurin Bevan, said that ‘serenity’ was a benefit of the NHS because it gave people peace of mind when in the past medical bills had been a huge source of anxiety to ordinary people. The bishop was contemplating that the staff should also be able to have serenity.

I have several clients and students who work in the NHS and they come to me because serenity is very definitely not what they experience at work. It is very difficult to perform at your best when you are under pressure all the time. Finding serenity will reduce stress and anxiety, give you clarity when making decisions and increase your energy.

What is ‘Serenity’?

The Oxford English Dictionary definition is as follows:

Serenity (noun)

    1The state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.

    ‘an oasis of serenity amidst the bustling city’

    1.1His/Your” etc. “Serenity A title given to a reigning prince or similar dignitary.

Origin: Late Middle English: from Old French serenite, from Latin serenitas, from serenus ‘clear, fair’ (see serene).

So, it is the state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled although it’s origins seem to come from clear and fair when referring to weather (if you look up the word ‘serene’ separately).

Our own personal weather system, our moods and emotions, use language connected to meteorology all the time; they had a stormy relationship, he fell into depression, she has a sunny disposition, he had a face like thunder…Is it just the British I wonder, with our love of talking about the weather, or do all languages make this connection? Let me know if you are a non- English native speaker.

Where can you find it?

I actively seek serenity, it is one of my top three desired feelings. I am writing this from my garden which backs onto a nature reserve and I am serenaded by birds and cooled by a gentle breeze. The greens of the grass and trees have noticeable calming effects. A study from Stanford University in 2015 found that those who walked in nature experienced less anxiety, rumination (focused attention on negative aspects of oneself), and negative affect, as well as more positive emotions, such as happiness. There are several other studies from around the world which demonstrate how being in Nature can increase your serenity.

The people you surround yourself with also determine your level of serenity. You have a choice in who you spend time with, don’t mix with people who drain your energy or question your desires, surround yourself with those you admire, give you inspiration and share your values.

Your life is too precious not to enjoy every minute of it.

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