The Wisdom to Know the Difference: When to Make a Change-and When to Let Go by Eileen Flanagan is a spirituality and self-help book, which examines the power of courage and serenity in our lives.

When I first learned about this book, I was immediately drawn to it, for the main reason that it explored in practical ways the famous Serenity Prayer. Whether you call it a prayer, a verse or a reflection, the message captured by it, is one I often use in my own life: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change Courage to change the things I can change, And wisdom to know the difference.”

Our life is very much in our control, and yet at the same time, there are many elements in our life beyond our control. Thus, it was a pleasure to explore with the author how to apply and get the most benefit from these simple, yet powerful words. In this review, I share with you more about this book and some of the things you can expect from it.

About the Author

The Wisdom to Know the Difference: When to Make a Change-and When to Let Go is written by Eileen Flanagan and newly released this past September 2010.

Eileen is an author, spiritual teacher and leader in the Quaker community. She left the Catholic Church in college, finding God and spirituality in nature, until she found her home in the Quaker community.

Today, Eileen writes about accessing our inner wisdom and living with greater peace and courage. In addition to writing, speaking and leading workshops, she teaches at University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

You can learn more about Eileen or keep up with her on her site:

About the Format

The Wisdom to Know the Difference: When to Make a Change-and When to Let Go is just over 250 pages, composed of an introduction, 7 chapters and a conclusion.

Each chapter begins with a detailed story from one of the interviewed subjects, to illustrate the theme of the chapter. There are then shorter stories and examples from the author and other interviewees, woven throughout the chapter to provide lots of practical application of how and when to apply the courage to change, or the peaceful acceptance of serenity. Each chapter ends with a series of reflective questions to help the reader access their own inner wisdom. There are also some practical exercises provided in some of the chapters.

The chapters are as follows, and are meant to illustrate the 7 spiritual lessons that can help you live fearlessly:

  • Chapter 1 – The Courage to Question
  • Chapter 2 – Knowing Yourself
  • Chapter 3 – Seeking Divine Wisdom
  • Chapter 4 – Shifting Your Perspective
  • Chapter 5 – Practicing Loving Acceptance
  • Chapter 6 – Letting Go of Outcomes
  • Chapter 7 - Finding Wisdom in Community

Book Content & Personal Commentary

We are all powerful beings, co-creating our reality. But how do we know when we need to take action, cause change and turn things around, and when things are truly beyond our control and we need to employ acceptance and serenity?

It is these ideas that are at the core of the book by Eileen Flanagan. This is a fantastic book for anyone who has ever been, or is currently facing a difficult decision or situation. It is also highly beneficial for those of us who simply want to make more sense out of why things happen as they do, and what we can do about them to make our lives happier and more peace-filled.

The Wisdom to Know the Difference is a book put together based on the author’s own wisdom and spiritual evolution, and the incorporation of lessons from people like you and I. For this book, Eileen interviewed nearly 30 people.

What makes this book a particularly strong read is the practicality that it conveys. This is not a book that theorizes or philosophizes this or that. It is a book that takes the real life stories of almost 30 people from all walks of life. There is at least 1 story in there, that every single one of us can relate to.

A few things resonated very strongly with me while reading this book. One of the first, is the excellent case the author made right at the start of the book, in how much our society thrives on our fears and insecurities.

Keeping us insecure is big business. If we all felt serenity in our daily lives, we’d be a lot less likely to binge on junk food or mall shopping. If we all felt courage, we’d be more likely to ask for a raise or hold our politicians accountable.

Eileen Flanagan, The Wisdom to Know the Difference

The author also did an excellent comparison and brought to light the very important aspect of how and why different cultures act as they do when it comes to how they create, shape and control their lives. So often we think everyone else thinks like us, or will see things like us, but nothing can be further from the truth. There are as many different view points and ways to act, as there are people in this world.

All of the chapters hit upon and explored key, fundamental spiritual concepts for enhancing one’s wisdom and quality of life. However my most favorite one, was chapter 4 – Shifting Your Perspective. The reason for this, is that this concept alone can make the all the difference in every single life situation. As the saying goes “change your thoughts, change your life”, and our perceptions are driven by our thoughts.

The author explains that, “the purpose of this book is to help you reflect on the experiences of your own life, so you can tap the source of wisdom within you”. After reading this book, I feel very much that it is capable of helping one accomplish this, but only if the reader is honest with themselves and ready to go on an inward journey.

While we must accept that we do not completely control our destiny, we must also accept that we do have choices and, therefore, responsibility.

Eileen Flanagan, The Wisdom to Know the Difference

And while I think this book will hold much value for many people, it is prudent to note that it may not be very appealing to those seeking a more New Age or metaphysical version of spirituality. Some may also not resonate well with its frequent reference to religion and various religious organizations. While I personally respect all of the religious references, the fact is that today many people in the spiritual expansion field do not seek material heavily inundated with examples tied to organized religions.

I have no doubt that The Wisdom to Know the Difference, will be of great value to most people out there who are looking at incorporating more peace and happiness in their life, and better developing their own sense of wisdom. In every situation we truly do have the choice to act with courage and create change, or act with acceptance and embrace serenity. What you choose is always up to you, but it is good to know that this book exists and can offer great help should you need some loving guidance or support.

This book is easily available from all major online book stores, like (below).

Books by Eileen Flanagan