Finding patience is something we all could do a little more of, I believe. It certainly isn’t something that comes naturally to anyone, particularly not in our modern world.
I’m not saying impatience is a dirty word. In fact, sometimes, impatience can be delightfully wonderful – equating to excitement and hope, which is fabulous. You know, the impatience that comes with waiting for your new car to be delivered, or your potential new lover to call, or your new cat or dog to join the family. That is a wonderfully hopeful type of impatience.
I’m talking about patience for the bigger picture. We are all – rightly so – impatient for this pandemic to end, for the vaccine to be fully rolled out, for our lives to get back on track, for travel to start up again. And of course, there are plenty of other things in life that are non-pandemic-related that we are impatient about and we have every right to be.
Oftentimes, these things are out of our hands, but the frustration and lack of patience while we wait is very real. Who hasn’t thought of planning a vacation only to remember … the pandemic. Or even a quick trip interstate to visit relatives or friends? Or to travel to see a show you’ve been longing to see for some time. I could go on and on, and I know you’d all agree with me.
So what do we do? If we allow ourselves to become a big ball of stress and impatience, it will detrimentally affect our mental health and our quality of life and happiness, All we can do is find our patience. Easier said than done, but it can be done!
Can Patience Bring Peace Of Mind?
I’m a firm believer that it can, to a certain extent. The Dalai Lama famously has said ‘The practise of patience guards us against losing our presence of mind. It enables us to remain undisturbed, even when the situation is really difficult. It gives us a certain amount of inner peace, which allows us some self-control, so that we can respond to situations in an appropriate and compassionate manner, rather than being driven by our disturbing emotions.”
There’s a lot to unpack in that short paragraph, but I think an important take-away is that patience allows us to “respond to situations in an appropriate and compassionate manner.”
Hands up who hasn’t reacted abruptly or inappropriately to situations over the past 18 months? I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t experienced a melt down of sorts, or moment of mini-crisis and frustration. However, if we can somehow master patience – or at least some semblance of it – we can indeed sit with acceptance of what today brings and how we can best handle it. Here are some of my suggestions.
Consider the alternative
While I’ve spoken earlier about the good type of impatience, the type that brings with it hope and excitement, there is also the type that makes us angry, upset or really stressed. None of this is good for our health.
If we stop to consider these emotions, and how they can destroy our day, or even our week (or more), we may reconsider jumping straight to impatience. Instead, learning to tolerate delays or obstacles can actually be a fantastic lesson in resilience and a way of practicing self care. When we jump directly to negative emotions, we are wasting energy and bringing unnecessary stress into our lives. As Doris Day sang, ‘what will be will be”. If we learn to accept that, we may indeed gain a sense of inner calm that carries us a long way in all aspects of our life.
Recognise impatience as a reactive response, not something that is happening to you.
Imagine this: you’re stuck in line at Bunnings (or some equally as busy store) and there are 10 people in front of you. The person being served at the checkout is trying to return something and there’s all kinds of faffing around going on. What do you do? Most of us quite naturally would begin sighing, rolling our eyes, tapping our feet and begin to feel really frustrated (if you’re picturing the scene in Love Actually where Rowan Atkinson is wrapping the necklace in Christmas wrapping, you’re right on cue!).
Now here’s the thing … all of these things are your reaction to something you can’t actually do a thing about. Nothing you feel will change the dithering going on at the counter.
Instead, why not take the time to do a small meditation (yes, you can practise meditation anywhere). or if that’s not your thing, use the time to call a family member you’ve been meaning to call for ages. Use your phone to answer a few outstanding emails, which may get you ahead for the week. Consider the time you’ve just been given a gift, rather than something to become frustrated over. Switching your reaction like this is a great way of finding patience in your life.
Remember There Is Power In Patience
Let’s go back to Bunnings for a minute. Imagine you’ve let yourself become super frustrated and you vent to the person next to you, or you snap at the checkout person. We’ve all been there, it’s OK. However, we know it hasn’t helped the situation, rather inflamed it and not only made your day worse, but someone else’s, too.
Making the decision to sit with the situation peacefully is emotionally freeing. The more we practise this, the more we can implement it into so many aspects of our lives – work, our relationships, or just day-to-day interactions. It gives us the power to improve our lives simply by choosing to stay calm, rather than boil over. Patience gives us direct control over ourselves and our actions, and that is a wonderfully empowering feeling. It also leads to clearer thinking, resulting in smarter decision and making an overall more peaceful existence.