As I spontaneously became infused with the idea for this piece, which is so often the way inspired writing is born, I was simultaneously and embarrassingly impatient over the simple fact that my internet connectivity was rather sluggish, crawling so slowly to the webpage I desired that it may as well have been going backward. I was so frustrated that I began clicking on the link over and over again with a heavy hand and a curse word, as if that would speed up the process. Go figure. I caught myself in my usual stubborn and persevering pattern of impatience, and I threw my head back partly in laughter and partly in an ah-ha! moment. With a sly smile on my face, “You’re funny,” I said to God aloud as if confronting a good friend who just punked me. I received the message.
They say patience is a virtue, one that I admittedly and shamefully don’t have readily accessible. Before I was diagnosed with a progressive neurological disease, my life was never about the journey. It was all about bulldozing my way toward the end product, which I was incredible at, like a bull running full speed ahead at a matador, only stopping for instant to decide on the destructive path it should take. Today, my patience has certainly increased. Like an unfinished painting that I continue to add brushstrokes of brilliant color to, it’s not a finished product yet, but it is slowly and painstakingly taking form.
Below are five tips for having more patience.
1. Self-Awareness – When you find yourself becoming frustrated and impatient, ask yourself, “Why am I being so impatient?” Is it because you fear you might be late? Are you multi-tasking too much? Do you feel out of control? Is it a generalized anxiety? Figuring out what your triggers are will allow you to move through your days with the self-awareness needed to squash impatience before it begins, or at the very least, recognize when you are being impatient and turn the situation around before it negatively affects you and those around you.
2. Time is an Illusion – Time does not actually exist. It is a man-made construct that we use to dictate our days. Keeping this in mind will help you in those moments stuck in traffic or running ten minutes behind in your morning routine. What’s the worst that can happen? You call to explain that you are running a few minutes behind? The more relaxed we are, the more our life will flow with ease despite the limiting constructs of time.
3. It’s the Journey, Not the Destination – I am guilty as charged, always focusing on the end result, but if we continue to ignore the journey, we will miss the sacred moments found nestled between our goals. The most important lessons are the ones we learn along the way, so find joy in the in between.
4. Put Things in Perspective – Whenever I was making a mountain out of a mole hill, my dad would always say to me, “Will this matter to you in ten years?” The answer was always a “no,” although, at those times, I could have sworn the world was ending. Ask yourself that question when you are feeling frustrated or impatient, and remember to count your blessings while you’re at it.
5. Practice Patience – There are plenty of opportunities in a multitude of scenarios that are available for you to practice patience throughout the day - when you are stuck in a grocery store line with a slow cashier, when you are stuck in traffic, or when you are with the people that tend to push your buttons the most, your loved ones. The more you practice, the easier it will become to incorporate patience in all areas of your life.