By Jimmy Warden
I want to start this off by telling a little story. The other day, I was driving to work. I was driving up a hill that I always drive up, but on this day, I was about 10-15 minutes behind the time I was hoping to be on my commute. Low and behold, I got stuck behind a tractor, going uphill, at a whopping seven miles per hour. Yes, seven miles per hour. There was a car in front of me that was directly behind the tractor, and after about 30 seconds, the driver zoomed past the tractor by illegally passing it on its left side.
At first, I thought to myself, maybe I could do the same, and also get away with it like the person in front of me did. Then I thought twice, and made the conscious decision to stick it out behind the tractor until it turned off, despite the traffic that was building up behind me. I made this decision because it came down to the fact that I was still going to be on time for work, even though I was late by my own expectations, and I also wanted to take the time to slow down before the pace of my day picked up, which helped me calm my mind. This idea of “going slow to go fast” is something that a lot of people can benefit from because not only does our action slow down, but so does our thinking, and our minds are constantly juggling thoughts upon thoughts every second of the day. With patience, this juggling act becomes much more manageable.
There is no doubt that today’s world is a busy one. From people regularly working 50-60 hour weeks, constant media at our fingertips, combined with the fact that we feel the need to “keep up” due to fear of missing out (FOMO), it seems there is not much time to exercise patience. However, without exercising patience, we won’t be able to get to the places we want to go. Whether it is a literal place we are traveling to or reaching goals that we’ve set for ourselves, it requires patience to see those things through. It also takes a lot of time to really develop patience, but it is time well spent because the more patience that we have, the more at ease we can feel throughout the busyness of our lives.
Our life is so busy that we often get caught up in our thinking, as well as the need to act on that thinking. We might need to meet deadlines for work obligations, remember a friend or loved one’s birthday, or follow through on a task that we set out to do in order reach a goal for ourselves. Whatever it may be, there is a need or desire in us to complete that task, and we often attach our self-worth to whether or not that task is completed, which directly ties into the fact that a lot of us tend to be impatient. When we don’t complete these tasks in a certain amount of time, we get angry, frustrated, or perhaps even sad because we feel we are not living up to our potential.
The challenging part is, sometimes these tasks require a tremendous amount of patience because they take more time to be completed than we originally believed, especially if it’s something that we’ve never done before. When that patience is absent, we experience those negative emotions like anger, frustration, disappointment, or sadness. As a result, we also experience a resistance to these emotions because we want them to pass as quickly as possible, but that usually exacerbates them. We also resist them because we have connected them to our identity and self-worth. We don’t want to come to terms with the fact we aren’t everything we could be. Pretty soon, we believe these thoughts and feelings are our identities, so we now identify with impatience because we aren’t aware of how life could be different by exercising patience.
In order to start exercising patience, we need to make a choice to begin exercising patience, and take some small steps towards putting it into action in our daily lives. Maybe it’s in the form of written affirmations or intentions for how we want to go about your day. Perhaps it’s a spoken affirmation on our commute to work. Maybe it’s a decision to focus on one thing at a time. Maybe you even want to start trying mindfulness or meditation. Whatever the tactic is, there needs to be some form of implementation, otherwise the brain cannot start building new neural pathways to change our thinking. Neural pathways are connections that neurons make in our brain that shape thinking and behavior. When we make an effort to start changing these pathways, this will help us make the transition of patience being an idea, to becoming a part of who we are.
It is going to take a lot of conscious effort to begin developing patience, but over time it will start to become more innate. If we use the implementation plan of trying to focus on one thing at a time, this will help us create some clarity in our thinking mind, and our plan of action. By focusing on one thing at a time, we will only be focusing on that thing. Sounds simple, which it is, but simplicity does not always decrease difficulty. This is where our affirmations start coming into play because they’ll start to pop up in our minds once our minds start to wander from what we’re doing in that moment due to increased difficulty.
The more that we can focus on one thing at a time, the more we will begin understanding how long certain things are going to take, especially if it is a project, such as a personal development goal, creating a habit change, or meeting work deadlines. This will also give us a better understanding of our abilities to complete these things, which increases our self-awareness of our potential. It’s okay to realize our limitations. That way we don’t get so discouraged when we don’t “meet the expectation” that we stop pursuing what we want to pursue. This awareness can also helps us realize where the bar should be set and give us some clarity of mind to raise it incrementally by seeing the bigger picture of where we’re going.
In order to navigate the pace of this life we live today, everyone could use a nice dose of patience each day. As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, but that is often how we try to live. Cram as much as we can within our day to maximize potential and productivity. This is not a great way to live because it often leads to feelings of disappointment, that are often coupled with anger, frustration, or sadness that gets directed towards our sense of self-worth. Instead, we should try to implement some type of patience practice, so that we can be more engaged in one thing at a time, rather than trying to juggle many things simultaneously. This will give us a lot more peace of mind as we won’t be worrying about things that we aren’t doing, it will increase our understanding of ourselves, and it will allow us to see and experience life from a different perspective. A perspective of patience.