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The Wisdom To Know The Difference ~Eileen Flanagan

The Wisdom to Know the Difference cover

I savored every single page of this book.  I knew that from the time of the book’s arrival and the posting date I would not have time to read it twice, which is my usual practice when I am reviewing for someone else.   I was also aware that with a holiday in the middle of my allotted time frame, company and special events, I would need to read with greater care and depth; I would need to be able to put the book down and pick it up again when the opportunities arose.

The book is about discernment and its relationship to CHANGE.  Flanagan’s writing style is easy and detailed as she creates the stages of change, relates anecdotal stories of individuals, and pulls the reader into the words of the historic and religious concepts which are part of the path to spiritual awakening and growth.   The author freely shares her own stories along with the stories of approximately 30 other individuals

The stories and lessons are about everyday moments, not so much about the huge heroic events of the “hero’s” life, rather those daily events which bring about more self-realization and actualization.  The book is about the spiritual changes that humans need  to add meaning and depth to their journey.    Although there are many, many references to the beliefs within a large number of religious traditions, this book is about an individual’s spiritual questing and path.

The book begins with a prayer that is credited to Reinhold Niebuhr, an advocate for social justice and a Protestant theologian, who delivered this prayer in a sermon during World War II

God, give us grace
To accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things that should be changed,
And the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Most of us know a more recent variation of these words which is called the Serenity Prayer used in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings around the world to work with addictions and behavior changes.

The author says at the start:  “…both serenity and courage are the fruits of learning to trust and let go of fear. For this reason, The Wisdom to Know the Difference is organized around spiritual lessons that can help you live fearlessly:  The Courage to Question; Knowing Yourself; Seeking Divine Wisdom; Shifting Your Perspective; Practicing Loving Acceptance; Letting Go of Outcomes; and finding Wisdom in Community.”

In the middle of reading this book my partner and I were paying off an uncomfortable debt and designing a new budget.  Our discussions were not producing any outcomes we could agree upon and the tensions were rising.  I found myself using the discussion questions at the end of each chapter within the context of our disagreements.   These were outstanding questions for letting go of our hoped for outcomes and in assisting us to truly communicate and accept each others feelings and ideas.

It is the little things that can make a huge difference.   I realized I was hanging onto wanting someone to come in and clean my house, when what would make me feel better and more courageous, would be to figure out how do some traveling and explore communities, people and cultures.  I already have a fine practice of meditative cleaning and I could certainly use some more action and interaction to build my spirit.

I found 31 quotes that I thought were powerful.  I copied them onto 3×5 cards and put them in a stack to read each day before my walk, so I can think on these things as I move.   Here is the one I read this morning:

When you are growing up, you know you are going to transform the world.  You’ll eliminate racism in your lifetime.  You’ll eliminate sexism in your lifetime.  And at some point you look and go, WOW this is still going to be here when I’m gone.  Damn.  I could live, and I could die, and the world would not have transformed in the way that I had hoped.  ~Eileen Flanagan’s Friend

For Wednesday the card says:
“What we can do is try to see each setback or inconvenience as an opportunity to develop wisdom.”

For Friday the card says:
“Father Michael compares collective effort to a rope that is made up of many thin threads that together can pull a ship.  Community is strengthening.”

I am going to read this book again.  I am going to give copies of this book to several friends as gifts.

I believe I enjoyed this book even more because it formed a trilogy of books about change and awakening to inspire one to be their best and live their best life.

The books of the trilogy and my reviews:
The Courage to be Free
The Gifts of Imperfection
The Wisdom to Know the Difference  (this post)

I would rate this book  5-Ladybugs

If you are a person who believes one religion has ALL the RIGHT answers, I do not think you would like this book at all.  The author is quite good at sharing how this spiritual path is part of many religions – the similarities of the spiritual experience.  The author is a practicing Quaker.

I received a copy of this book from TLC book tours in compensation for reviewing this book

tlc logo

This book is available through Amazon.com via this blog site.  If you order this book via this site I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

The full book tour Schedule

Eileen Flanagan’s Website

Looking forward to your comments and words of wisdom about change and spiritual quests.  Do you have some special practices that give you courage?   When do you know when to “let go”?  Do other people’s stories assist you in discovering your wisdom?

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34 Responses to “The Wisdom To Know The Difference ~Eileen Flanagan”

  1. supernalsteve Says:

    I love that prayer – it says so much – I use it often!!

    patricia Reply:

    It is an amazing prayer and is a great foundation on which to build a whole book about discernment and change on a spiritual quest.

  2. Patricia Says:

    Just like the new Harry Potter Movie – this book is about DISCERNMENT – a crucial part of the change process…

    That word was supposed to be highlighted…sorry I could not pull that off?

  3. jonathanfigaro Says:

    The wisest thing i know is that we can change aspect of ourselves and our lives through repetition. Great piece Patricia!

    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you jonathan for your kind words. I thought it was a great book and fit so nicely into the trilogy of making changes books I have been reviewing this year – each one took on a bit of a different angle or perspective which added a nice dimension.

  4. vered | blogger for hire Says:

    Sounds like an amazing read. Thank you for the review!
    .-= vered | blogger for hire´s last blog ..Sweet- Airy Little Dough Rounds- Jelly Doughnuts Recipe for Hanukkah =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    I would have enjoyed eating your donuts and latkes with the book! The author touches base with so many similarities about change with in so many faith practices. It was a lovely new perspective.

  5. Talon Says:

    Thank you, Patricia. Your reviews are always so thoughtful and well written.

    That prayer is a good one. The book sounds really good.
    .-= Talon´s last blog ..Pure =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    Oh Talon,
    I have just found out there is a link error and I can not get a hold of IT Girl.
    I hate to admit it but I worry about these things and not getting it accessible to interested readers.

    the book is a great read and lovely story telling about change – makes me think of your cyclamen photograph –
    Thank you for you encouraging words – now to find IT Girl

  6. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. gosh the quote is powerful .. I’ve just been dealt a body blow by my family .. & am trying to take it gracefully – started out ok, then changed, now have to adjust again! The book certainly is one I’d like to read sometime ..

    and I love the way you written out your cards and can access them all the time & ponder on one aspect as you go on your daily walk.

    Fancy a walk in the snow – only a foot of it .. no buses – and I can’t use the car .. so today it’ll be a trudge up the hill to see my Mama.

    Thanks – we all need to support ourselves! All will be well .. God must give me courage to be at peace now .. Mum is fine & cozy .. we had the fire alarm test yesterday & she said to the nurse and I .. do we have to get down stairs quickly we’d better be ready! She amazes me .. we both smiled and said we could safely where we were!! Cheers .. and love Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..Talli Roland a favourite and author The Hating Game =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    Hilary,
    I am so amazed about the family body blows that occur when someone is ill or making a huge life change. I have to remind myself that these are opportunities and this book is truly about opportunities for spiritual growth and individual growth.

    I just came from reading Deborah’s blog in the UK and she made it snow on her site! and then had pictures of her puppy playing in it.

    Stay warm, cozy up against the body blows, and enjoy the smiles

    I am going to hear Sweet Honey on the Rocks sing tonight. I can hardly wait. Good music soothes the soul.

    Hilary Reply:

    Thanks Patricia .. I will – stay warm and cozy .. hope the music was good .. it sounds as though it’ll soothe the soul.

    I will get the book – thanks for the write up .. Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..Talli Roland a favourite and author The Hating Game =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    Music was excellent – posting about it next week…bought your recommended book too! Lots of reading in Winter

    Deborah Reply:

    Patricia, I am very interested in this book – I suspect I will be ordering it. The snow on my blog is a bit ‘cheesey’ but fun. We have so much snow here I thought a little more wouldn’t hurt. WordPress allowed me to add it as an extra but it apparently self destructs on January 4th – not sure I’ll keep it that long but if I forget all about it, good to know it wont be there in June!
    Thank you for your kind comments by the way. It is good to know you enjoy reading my tales as much as I enjoy yours. 😉
    .-= Deborah´s last blog ..Snowy December =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    Deborah,
    I loved the snow! Trying to get IT GIRL to give it a whirl, now that her preliminary thesis papers are all turned in.

    I so enjoy your storytelling and you just delight so many memories right into the open field of my day – I decided that I would be MARY in my own pageant this year of my own design! As that is an experience I have not had and it was a prickly memory.

    I am glad you find the words here interesting – that is lovely news

    I think you will very much enjoy this book – well done and opening of the heart.

  7. Robin Easton Says:

    Dear Patricia, I just saw your “puppy” comment on Keith Smith’s site Straight Up Living – which you saw on Tess’ site. LOL! :)

    Anyway, I just LOVED your comment because it was so heartfelt. You continually blow me away with how honest, open and vulnerable you are willing to allow yourself to be. It is very healing for those of us who are the same way. Thank you from my heart. Robin

    Patricia Reply:

    Robin,
    I am just working on being myself – like you and I think being open and honest is very valuable – much in the same way that you do. I am working on being silent sometimes too and adding some more finesse as sometimes my words are misunderstood – one reason I like writing.

    Puppy words – I think my partner and friend are in cahoots, but according to the emails and receipts coming in, I will know soon for sure. Today it feels like a good idea 😉

    Thank you for coming by Robin, I just love to read your words of connection. Kindred spirits?

    Robin Easton Reply:

    Yes, dear Patricia, definitely “kindred spirits”. I am so honored. Thank you for who you are. I am grateful. Hugs, Robin

    Patricia Reply:

    hugs to you Robin

  8. Val Says:

    This is an excellent review, Patricia. I’ve got to admit that often I can’t concentrate on book reviews – my mind wanders – but this one had me reading all the way through.

    The prayer is familiar to me from a different source: the beginning of a song called “Feels So Different” by Sinead O’Connor. Here’s the music. Click the down arrow below the video for the full lyrics:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LoZqvMryMs
    .-= Val´s last blog ..Just because I’m Jewish =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    Val,
    I was an excellent book – glad you liked the whole review!

    Your video and music are an excellent addition – wow that just lit my candle – Thank you for sharing.

    Patricia Reply:

    Loved the music Thank you for the referral
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..What do Librarians Make =-.

  9. Joy Says:

    Hi Patricia,
    Your puppy comment brought us in:)
    This book and your review are perfect for the stage I am currently in..wrestling whether to risk..well, knowing I will risk because it’s my nature, but gathering the moxie to leap. You’ve reminded me it’s faith versus fear..and I’m full of Faith!

  10. patricia Says:

    Joy,
    I think those of us that are risk takers always know when we will do just that, but timing is sometimes an issue! This book is stunning and truly served my spirit. I have to say I thought I did not wish to read another book in a row, but the spiritual wisdom of this book truly was just the right step for me.

    Letting go…whew sometimes so hard.

    Thank you to for the lovely email and idea sharing.
    Glad you stopped by.

    Patricia Reply:

    puppy has arrived and it is a blessing – but extremely time consuming :) Being more attentive to the little guy than my blog right now
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..What do Librarians Make =-.

  11. Jannie Funster Says:

    Freedom from fear is a beautiful lesson. Every time I let fear go, good things happen. Actually, JoyChristin writes of dancing with fear — yes that Joy directly above.

    I like how ZenHabits writes think of every glass as cracked, and expect things not to go as planned, opening yourself up to letting go.

    That’s cool the Quakers are still around, I don’t know why I thought it was an extinct religion. Lovely to get so many perspectives in a book like this, I think. And I bet I’d really really like reading it. I have leaned in recent years to thinking no one religion is The Way, as so much of religion is “manmade.”

    I’m at The Library now, going to inquire about “The Wisdom To Know The Difference” after I post this comment.

    xoxo
    .-= Jannie Funster´s last blog ..Imagined From My Songwriting Chair While Listening To Neighborhood Construction =-.

  12. J.D. Meier Says:

    “both serenity and courage are the fruits of learning to trust and let go of fear” … I like that.

    Patricia Reply:

    This is quite an excellent book and although not directly related to leadership your 2.0 program yes indeed. I liked that it included the similarities of religious beliefs too in her considerations.

  13. Chris Edgar Says:

    Hi Patricia — I like what you said about seeing setbacks as the opportunity to develop wisdom — perhaps what we think of as problems we face are actually the only route that can lead us to wisdom, even though we tend to assume that, if we got rid of all of the challenges, our growth would actually proceed more quickly. I think this is why, if something doesn’t involve adversity, it’s hard to see it as worth doing.

    Patricia Reply:

    Chris,
    I read your comment just prior to getting a phone call that something I was expecting was not going to come through this time. It took me about 30 minutes to let go…see it as an opportunity – I used several of your techniques actually until I could feel some relaxation about the issue.

    The next day I got a call first thing in the morning that a much better opportunity was available and right away. Trust is important.

  14. Keith Davis Says:

    Great review Patricia

    Love your comment “The stories and lessons are about everyday moments”

    I think that real life is just that, “everyday moments” not large spectacular events.

    Great idea to include the quotes from the book – helps to give a flavour of what the book is about.

    Patricia Reply:

    IT is very down to earth Keith and I do believe that made it seem very achievable to make changes and find courage and wisdom in so many situations.

    I am also reading a very hard driving novel right now, and I liked the gentle spirit from this book as a complimentary match and change of pace.

    I very much enjoyed this book and have just put copies in the mail to two friends.
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..What do Librarians Make =-.

  15. Jenny Ann Fraser Says:

    This is a wonderful book!
    I love your idea of using the index cards. What a helpful way to stay focused. I may try this as I read through it a second time as there was so much in this book that I want to review. It really is inspiring!
    .-= Jenny Ann Fraser´s last blog ..The Wisdom To Know The Difference =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    Jenny Ann Fraser
    I never read others reviews before I post mine either. Then I run around the tour and read what every one has written.

    I hope this book is a best seller because it is just so uplifting and real – inspiring

    courage and serenity = wisdom

    Thank you for your comment