It isn’t at all surprising that patience is not an actively practiced virtue in today’s society. Instant everything. News. Shared information and photographs. Weather reports. Noodles.
But, what if I told you that you could not only have patience, but also love it?
Patience is often defined as the quality of being patient, as the bearing of annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like. I mostly disagree. While I concur that patience is not the ability to wait, but how you behave while waiting, I believe the virtue should not be defined by the lack of what you do while you are practicing patience. It can be more adequately—and more amiably—described as a form of compassion. It allows you to step back, regroup, and make educated decisions instead of reacting belligerently out of frustration.
Patience is not only a reaction to a situation, but a growth in intuition. When you are able to put your need for instant gratification aside in favor of time-consuming diligence, you heighten your instincts. Having the time of your life on a date? Well, why not just propose to your new mate and start a family right now? We all know why, because love (and the decisions associate with love) take time. An experienced Cajun chef knows how long a gumbo should simmer. A master conductor knows how long to make that dramatic pause before shifting the symphony into the next movement. Anything less than excessive patience can ruin a relationship, a dinner, an orchestral performance.
Patience is power.
“That’s all very nice in theory," you say. "Patience isn't grace, kindness, or puppy-kisses. You have to tell me how to be patient.”
Fair enough. So, here it goes.
Below is my simple 3 step method to enjoying the soup simmer, watching the browning bake, waiting for the baby to develop within the womb.
1 - Resign yourself to the understanding that you will never stop waiting.
Harsh? Maybe. True? Absolutely. Sick of my rhetorical questions? Me too.
Even in the age where you can find out the price of red licorice in Brazil within seconds, there is no permanent reprieve from waiting. Important answers get delayed, projects take time to be developed, and not a single person in this world exists to be at your beck and call 24/7.
After all, “All good things are worth waiting for.” Or, so everyone in the universe says.
You have two choices. You can get frustrated with the fact that instant gratification isn’t as widespread as you may wish, or you can take comfort in the inevitable and find (or manufacture) peace. You can dissipate stress.
2 - Vent your frustrations productively.
It is nearly impossible to suppress every bad feeling that flows through us. Even with practice, that little monster can whisper snide comments in your brain when a checkout line gets too long or that email response that was supposed to be in your inbox weeks ago has yet to make an appearance.
In the writing community, for instance, there is an event called Pitch Wars currently percolating. (If you know nothing about it, you can read about the contest at www.brenda-drake.com) The results of the first round are due out in four days, and when they are announced, over a hundred people will be thrilled! Unfortunately, 15 out of every 16 people who entered are likely to be disappointed. Those are the odds. *Shrug*
Who do you think will be more disappointed, the person who sat poised in front of the twitter feed for more than two weeks, biting their nails to stubs, and doing little other than fretting over every possible outcome until they developed a nervous tick in their left eye… or the person who took a deep breath after hitting “submit,” realized it was out of their hands, and occupied their time—and mind—with other things.
That doesn’t mean that the second person in this scenario never thinks about it, floating around for 18 days, 4 hours, and thirty-seven minutes (or, whatever, who’s keeping track?) without entertaining thoughts of the potential outcome. Releasing the internal frustration of an inevitable wait allows you to determine the right action, take it, and discover your deepest motives. Each step is just that, a step. Try to see the whole journey.
So, to release some of that frustration, grab a timer and a trusted friend and spend five minutes ranting. Write down your frustrations on biodegradable coffee filter and let it fly in the wind. Allow your cat be your confidant. Then, move onto something productive.
3 - Find things to be thankful for
Patience is an active state, and to be truly active, you must (say it with me) ACT! The fastest, easiest, and most effective way to change your mood is to find a handful of things to be thankful.
Now. Do it, I’ll wait.
Great! Now, do it again.
Do you see how it’s almost impossible to be frustrated and grateful at the same time? And there is always something to be thankful for, whether it’s a sunray, a new friend, a lesson learned, or a step in the right direction.
So, remember, patience isn’t easy, but it’s one of the best gifts you can ever give yourself!
If you need help or want to share a way you stay patient, leave a note in the comments. Be blessed!