Patience

Don’t you just hate to wait? When the line at the Wendy’s drive through just creeps along, when the person checking out in front of you has items without a price tag, when the customer service rep leaves you on hold for fifteen minutes? Will that Sunday driver in the left lane ever move over? And then there are those situations where you know already it will take a long time, but you still hate to wait, like losing 10 pounds, or wondering if you’ll get the promotion, or deciding to move to another neighborhood. Is that fellow going to propose to your daughter or not? Being patient, by definition, is the ability to suppress restlessness or annoyance during circumstances over which you have no control. Because if you could change things then you wouldn’t have to wait and you wouldn’t need to be patient. So why do we get our blood pressure up over the practice of waiting? I don’t really know the answer to my own question, but I can offer a few thoughts on being a patient person. First of all, we need to own the fact that being impatient is our own response to circumstances. Sometimes I’m in a hurry because I’m late, and I’m late because I couldn’t say “no” to one last task, so there is no point in getting mad at the traffic. So just stop. Stop the frustrated inner monologue and take a deep breath. The fact is, you are just late and arriving with an attitude won’t help. Next, take a moment to check in with your body. Impatience settles in to your shoulders, your jaw… where do you feel tense? Focus on those sensations and see if you can relax. Drop your shoulders, loosen your grip on the steering wheel, breathe. Once your blood pressure returns to normal you can assess your situation. Perhaps you can make adjustments in your schedule. Perhaps you can open some space for inspiration concerning a tricky problem. Or maybe you can make friends with life not knowing for sure how a situation will turn out. Someone much wiser than me said it this way many years ago: Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself? -Lao-Tzu, Tao-te-Ching 6th Century BC