Do you find yourself saying one or more of the following?
- My boss wants me to have this done by yesterday.
- I wish there were 48 hours in a day!
- There’s just never enough time.
- What do I do for myself? I have no time for ME!
You’re so not alone. Most people find themselves rushing from one thing to another, trying to get it all done, get it all right, get it all done perfectly, failing, and carrying a truckload of guilt for failing.
Unfortunately, when we live like this, we’re stressed out to the max. Almost all our problems stem from the fact that we’re rushed and we feel we need more time, but we don’t have the luxury of time.
There is a better way, a way our world has forgotten. That way is Patience.
Having moved cross-country recently, we’ve had to deal with a number of service providers: internet, gas & electric, and insurance. There’s hardly anything that tests one’s patience more than talking to an automated voice you know cannot help you--and yet you have to get through this gatekeeper to access a human being.
The first human being you talk to wants your entire life history: name, address, email, SSN, account number (it doesn’t matter that you’re a brand-new customer who’s trying to open an account with them!). Once you’ve patiently shared it, he lets you know that he can’t help you and you need to talk to a different department. The department you’re transferred to starts the questioning process and you begin by stating your name, address, email….
If this doesn’t test one’s patience I don’t know what will.
Yet, these are the exact moments when a practice in patience can help us stay grounded and calm. Well, you may argue that you’re not a very patient person. Here’s the thing. We all have the aspect of patience within us. It has just remained hidden because we’ve bought into the idea of speed.
Counting to ten is useful to a point, but it doesn’t help cultivate patience in us. To cultivate patience, we need to weed out the causes of impatience. Patience is wise and compassionate. Impatience gives rise to annoyance and irritation which, if left unchecked, can cause us to become mad. Author and meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg says “Impatience is feeling upset because things are not happening on our timetable, or wanting to be more in control of a process so that we can have something happen the way we’d like to see it happen. It’s stepping out of a process in order to fret because something is not happening the way we’d like to see it happen.”
Here are some ways in which you can bring an attitude of patience into your daily life:
- Forgive yourself; forgive others. When you are able to give yourself grace for not doing as well in a situation as you’d have liked to, the energy of kindness softens your heart. Equally you’ll find yourself being more forgiving of the checkout clerk who’s bagging groceries at snail’s pace, or the driver who cuts in front of you.
- Practice the pause. When you find yourself triggered or getting heated in an argument, say nothing for a moment. Allow yourself to pause before you speak. Marriages have broken and long-term friendships have ended because people didn’t pause. Words, once spoken, cannot be taken back. The pause gives you time to recalibrate, take a breath, and reconsider your response.
- Be mindful. When you’re rushing around, bring awareness to how you’re moving and what you’re thinking. Why do you feel like you’re running out of time? Are you taking on too much? Saying yes to too many people? Disorganized? Bringing awareness to what you’re thinking and doing gives you a rich opportunity to course-correct. Maybe you need to limit the items on your to-do list to 4 instead of 12. Prepping meals on weekends can be a huge time-saver. You could ask your spouse/partner to take on a few chores to free up some time for you. There are options. Question: why aren’t you using them?
Patience is the road to inner peace and lasting happiness. By changing a few things around how you run your daily life, you can absolutely bring more calm into your life.