Find Peace Without Religion: A Non-Religious Serenity Prayer

The Serenity Prayer is a well-known ritual practiced by people from various faiths.

The prayer has been famously integrated into the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). They use it to encourage their members to submit to a higher power and find the strength to win their addiction struggles.

Is there a non-religious, atheist version of the Serenity Prayer?

Non-Religious/Atheist Version of The Serenity Prayer

There are several versions of the Serenity Prayer that have been adapted for use by people who do not believe in God or follow a particular religious tradition.

These non-religious versions of the prayer often focus on finding inner peace and strength in the face of difficult circumstances, rather than relying on a higher power for help and guidance.

In its simplest form, it is:

“May I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Serenity prayer for atheists and non-religious
Serenity prayer for atheists and non-religious

This version of the Serenity Prayer removes references to God so that it can be used by people of any belief system who do not believe in a higher power.

It can be further shortened to remove the word “May” to appear as an affirmation:

“I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”

It focuses on personal responsibility and inner strength, rather than reliance on a higher power.

Here is another one:

“I am responsible for my own peace,
So, I accept my past.

I’ll be brave enough to change my current conditions,
Ignore other people’s opinions of me,
And only compare myself to who I was yesterday.

I’ll make the most of every moment
While being kind and true to myself
And find my happiness.”

Here are a few more non-religious versions of the Serenity Prayer:

“Let me have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”

“Let me have the strength to face my fears,
the determination to overcome my challenges,
and the resilience to bounce back from setbacks.”

“Let me find peace within myself,
and to live a life that is meaningful and fulfilling.”

Stoicism & Serenity Prayer: How did the Stoics pray?

If you look closely, at the heart of the Serenity Prayer lies Stoicism.

In ancient Greek, “serenity” was “apatheia“, which meant freedom from intense emotional storms.

The Stoics understood when our passions, like anger, grief, or even joy, get out of control, they can ruin us.

The divide between “the things we do not have the power to change” and “the things we do have the power to change” is a basic tenet of Stoicism (dichotomy of control).

The Stoics knew how to avoid “things not up to us” and instead focus on “things up to us.”

Epictetus said,

Epictetus quote on worrying

The Philosopher King Marcus Aurelius wrote,

Either the Gods have power or they have none. If they have no power, why do you pray? If they have power, why do you not pray to them to grant you the ability neither to fear, nor to desire, nor to be distressed by any of these external things, rather than praying that some of them should fall to you and others not? For surely, if the Gods have any power to help human beings, they can help them in this. But perhaps you will object, ‘They have placed this in my own power.’ Well then, would it not be better to make use of what lies within your power as suits a free man rather than to strain for what lies beyond it in a slavish and abject fashion? In any case, who told you that the Gods do not assist us even in things that lie within our power? Begin at least to pray so, and you will see.

— Meditations, 9.40

Marcus essentially asks those who believe in the Gods to pray for inner strength to remain unaffected and unbothered by the world outside, rather than begging for wishes to be granted.

Final Words

There are many other versions of the Serenity Prayer that have been adapted for use by non-religious people.

With a little effort, you can find other versions that resonate more with your beliefs and values.

You may even create your own version.

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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher, who writes on mental well-being, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).


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