A friend one time told me that the serenity prayer was the best description he knew of successful recovery from bipolar disorder. He described it a little differently than you normally hear:
God- Life is about more than me. There is a meaning and design to the world independent of what I think or feel. The first (and maybe biggest) trap of bipolar is to convince you that "it" is all about you and the measure of how things are is how you feel. "Life is not about what I can or cannot control, thank goodness, because so much of this is beyond my control." There is a "higher power." There is someone to turn to when I feel all alone and powerless and all feels loss.
grant me the serenity- "Grant"- that means it is a gift. It is not something I earn or create. Serenity is not something that I accomplish. It is something I accept. And again it means giving up my need to control. "If everytime I say control I could change it to manage or influence my life would be so much better." Serenity is a focus on here and now. It is not being angry or sad about things gone wrong, or anxious about things yet to go wrong. Serenity is about taking things as they come.
To accept the things I cannot change- acceptance is such a major part of dealing with this. So much time is needlessly worrying about "what I got", and not enough about "what I do with it." Control is a focus on what I got. Management is a focus on what I do with it. A first rule of walls- "No matter how much you bang your head on them it doesn't create a door to walk through."
the courage to change the things I can- To live with bipolar means to be scared. There is a good reason some people call it a "terminal disease." Positive steps are sometimes so small that they don't always even seem a step. There are enough wounds and scars that you can't help but worry sometimes about what is next. "And sometimes it so hard and so tiring and seems so impossible you just don't want to try. Giving up seems to make such good sense."
And the wisdom to know the difference- The beginning of all is to know. "Knowledge is necessity." A big part of knowing what to do is knowing what you got. Another major part of wisdom is staying focused. Looking. Not assuming that because something feels so it doesn't make it so. Wisdom also means realizing when you are not being so smart. The smartest thing is to be able to see our foolishness quick enough not to wreck.
It is important to realize that these things don't just happen sequentially. It isn't just do this first and this second and so on. Each one feeds into the other and the other feeds into it. Serenity helps give you courage, but courage increases your serenity. Wisdom helps to develop both, but each of them also increases wisdom. It is a net in effect. The serenity prayer in a real way is a safety net to keep you from drowning in the high waters of bipolar.