Patience. It’s one of the toughest virtues to practice. Patience waiting in line, waiting for that job or raise, waiting to pay that debt, or someday own your own home. Patience to meet “the one,” have a child, lose that weight, put up with that irritating person in your life who you just can’t avoid. Patience to save up for that car, that bike, that vacation you’re dreaming about and really need. Patience with that arrogant, irresponsible driver who is irately tailgating you because apparently NASCAR is competing down your street. Patience with the waiter who messes up your order, and the check-out person who pushes the wrong button on the register and accidentally charges you more. Patience with the neighbor who can never control their 300-pound hyper dog who wrestles toward you as if you’re a prime steak, or that neighbor who does anything that is annoying (loud music, parties, inappropriately loud hook-ups, fights, etc. I think I’ve lived through them all). Patience while waiting for justice, or healing.
Sometimes you have to be patient with people, sometimes destiny and sometimes yourself.
No matter how many New Age escapism theories you read, you just can’t avoid this lesson that must be learned. But you know, after decades, I think I’ve finally made peace with this lesson. I think I’ve inched closer to practicing this virtue more steadfastly. Here’s my logic behind becoming a more patient person.
1. My impatience doesn’t have any impact on time whatsoever. I can whine, get frustrated, get angry, worry my head off, complain until I’m sick of hearing myself. Bottom line is: I’m only hurting myself getting so stressed out. My stress hormones are rising (saying hello, illness, I’m here!), my nervous system is getting jittery, I’m finding it harder to concentrate. Do I really want to be in this negative head space? No.
2. Impatience leads to bad decisions. Instead of patiently waiting for a great thing, I compromise for an okay thing, but it’s not what I really wanted. If only I had waited.
3. Impatience leads to depression. If I’m always focusing on what I’m waiting for instead of actively pursuing what I can in the present moment then I’m always thinking about what I don’t have. Depressing!
4. Patience makes you humble. A strong will is fantastic, it gets things done. But it’s not good when it crosses the line into control freak. Instead of always trying to demand things happen on my terms, I think to myself, God has a better plan in mind then I can imagine right now. I’ve got to trust that plan. I’ve seen countless times that if what I want is in the cards, it will happen. When I think this way, I feel myself totally surrender to divine timing, and that is emotionally liberating. Not to mention my shoulders slide away from my ears, too.
5. Patience is liberating. I love not having a clock control me. I am free when I don’t give my peace of mind away to the future which hasn’t even happened yet. I feel happier when I don’t let that stressed person stress me out. I feel more peaceful when I detach from expectations and let things be. Not fixating on what I’m waiting for helps me re-direct my mind to other matters that may need my attention right now.
If you want to up your patience levels, think about what mood you want to be in. If you want to be in a crappy mood, anxious and depressed, then give into impatience. Let it rein you in and dominate you so you’re pulling your hair out at the end of the day and popping pills for headaches and hypertension. Did I mention impatience leads to bitter fights between friends and loved ones, too?
If you want to be more Zen, still be able to laugh (at life and at yourself when necessary), and breathe deeply knowing you’ve done all you can and accept it is what it is right now, then shoot for waiting as calmly and coolly as you wait for your kettle to boil. Then you’ll render yourself untouchable to the anxiety trolls who like stealing inner peace.
Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying this Zen state is easy, or attainable every time. That’s why patience, like yoga, is a practice, both fostering flexibility in mind and body. These are well-trodden paths to self-mastery (or as close as we can get to living a peaceful life).
Positive Thought of the Day: No matter what happens today, I refuse to give away my peace of mind.