In today's English listening practice we talk about something interesting in these days of self isolation, we cover some new English vocabulary and we practice our English listening skills. Listening to 10 minutes of quality English audio will help in you at least three unique ways and if you repeat listen & learn, you will boost your English comprehension even more.
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Stoicism Cannot Ebook
|The Serenity Prayer||8|
|At The Moment||6|
|The Things I||6|
|Things You Can||4|
|Which Things You||3|
Hi there and welcome to this podcast from Adept English. We are your resource, if you want to improve your English and move towards speaking English fluently.
Well, one of the things I find myself working on with people at the moment is the management of their anxiety. The word ‘anxiety’, A-N-X-I-E-T-Y in English? Well, it means when you’re worried. It’s a noun, but you have anxiety…. if you have anxiety, it means you’re worried, you’re agitated, you’re fearful, often about what is going to happen in the future. And of course we never know what’s going to happen in the future – but it feels perhaps worse at the moment. At the time of recording this podcast in May 2020, there’s a lot of anxiety about what might happen in the future, because we really don’t know – lots of uncertainty.
So I spend quite a bit of my time, in my work talking with people about how to manage their anxiety, their worry. People have anxiety normally – and anxiety is normal, I say. But of course, it depends on how much anxiety and whether it’s manageable. And sometimes, it becomes a problem if there’s too much!
The Serenity Prayer
There is in English what we know as the ‘Serenity Prayer’. The word ‘serenity’, S-E-R-E-N-I-T-Y means calmness, peacefulness. It means ‘no worries’, no agitation. And a prayer, that’s P-R-A-Y-E-R? Well that word has a religious association – a ‘prayer’ is what you say to your God. And this verse was indeed written by a Christian in the United States in 1932, by a man called Reinhold Niebuhr. But it doesn’t really matter which religion, which version of God you believe in, ‘prayer’ is the same word. And in a minute I’ll give you a version of the Serenity Prayer, which works, even if you’re an atheist, even if you don’t believe in God.
As you probably know if you listen to Adept English, I would say I’m a spiritual person to some extent, but I don’t have a religion, I don’t have a particular God. So I take the ‘Serenity Prayer’ as a general piece of good advice, not an actual prayer. And I’m mentioning it today, because I think it’s a really useful piece of advice, at the moment, when the world is in some turmoil and we don’t know what’s going to happen. So here it is.
Give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.
So some vocabulary. ‘Give me the serenity’ means give me the calm, the peace, the quietness, that’s the opposite of anxiety. ‘To accept the things I cannot change’. That means that in any given situation, there are things that you can do nothing about, you have no choice, you just have to go along with how it is. So if you aren’t able to go to work at the moment, that’s not a choice. If you have to stay at home at the moment, you have to just go with it. You might want certain things to happen in the world at the moment, but you haven’t got control of that. You can’t make it change. It means you just have to accept the situation as it is.
And the second line ‘Courage to change the things I can’ – so ‘courage’, C-O-U-R-A-G-E is a noun and means strength in your mind, even when you’re fearful. You might ‘feel the fear, but you still have the strength to act, or to carry on anyway’. That’s ‘courage’. So ‘Courage to change the things I can’ - means ‘work out what things you can do, what things you can control, what things you can influence in a situation’ – and act on them. So if that’s you washing your hands and being sensible when you go out, that’s the bit you can control, that’s the part you can influence. And if you can do certain things to make a situation better, then do them.
‘And the wisdom to know the difference’. So this is the important part. ‘Wisdom’, W-I-S-D-O-M is a noun and ‘wisdom’ is what you have when you are ‘wise’, W-I-S-E. ‘Wise’ is an adjective – and you hopefully become more ‘wise’ as you get older, you acquire more ‘wisdom’. You know more things, you have more experience, and so you make better choices in life – that’s ‘wisdom’. So’ the wisdom to know the difference’ means that you know which things you can change and which things you can’t change, which things you just have to live with – and therefore there’s no point in worrying about it!
I find the ‘Serenity Prayer’ is a useful piece of advice – and in fact, if you’ve ever come across the organisation ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ which aims to help people with their alcohol difficulties, their alcohol problems, the Serenity Prayer is part of their 12 Step Programme. And the ‘Serenity Prayer’ aligns with another philosophy, originally an ancient Greek philosophy, which appears to have been gaining popularity in the last few years. And that philosophy is ‘Stoicism’, S-T-O-I-C-I-S-M and its proponents are called ‘Stoics’, S-T-O-I-C-S. Stoicism started in the 3rd Century BC – in Athens and but it was also adopted and made popular by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in the 2nd Century AD.
Rome, Italy. Colosseum also known as Flavian Amphitheatre in evening or night time.
Marcus Aurelius wrote quite a bit on Stoicism and today, a lot of his writings are available as books. This philosophy seems to be useful to people today. Apparently, sales of the printed book of ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius have increased by 28% in the last year. And sales of Marcus Aurelius’s ‘Letters from a Stoic’ are up by 42%, and if you look at ebook sales – that’s the electronic copy, like you might download to your Kindle or your tablet – well Marcus Aurelius is enjoying a 356% rise in ebook sales, compared with last year, compared with 2019. That’s not bad for someone who lived 2,000 years ago!
As Epictetus, one of the Roman Stoics said ‘Some things are up to us, others are not’. Meaning we can change some things and we cannot change others – and we just have to live with them.
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I hope that is what you call ‘food for thought’ – perhaps it’ll make you think! And if you are enjoying our podcasts, but you haven’t yet done our free course, The Seven Rules of Adept English – then go to our website and sign up today. This course will teach you the best method for learning English, the method which will help you become fluent more quickly.
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Anyway, enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.