Patience is so not my strong suit. The ability to not be thrown when life’s events, small and large, irritate or upset. To wait. To forbear. No, I do not go gently into patience. I have to work on it. Develop patience.
Of this I was reminded when it took me two hours during morning commute to drive the 55 miles to San Francisco. Anxiety and stress came up for no good reason. Oh, patience! Where are you when I need you?
But its benefits are clear. Patience is good for our health–both physical and mental. Patience allows us to see details we might otherwise miss. It allows a more fulsome consideration of issues we might be contending with and time for reflection.
Ok, I’m convinced. Now, how do I get me some patience?
1. Stop. Notice what triggers impatience or anger. That takes the ability to stop for a moment and consider what’s going on.
2. Counteract and transform it. Ram Dass has talked about noticing, then greeting these feelings that seem to come up out of nowhere as old friends. “Hello, old friend,” we can say, as we examine and counteract them.
- To counteract, it helps to take deep breaths.
Or do some rational thinking–as in “why am I in such a hurry?” It’s usually not that important, but we have to really look at it to realize that.
Or distract ourselves: for me, in traffic, it’s music.
Understand that we are in control of how we respond. It may be the only thing we’re in control of in life. But we do hold that ability to transform impatience into…patience.
Let go of those stressful feelings. Allow them to float out into the air.
And breathe deeply again.
If not now, in retirement, when will I develop patience? That’s what I ask myself as I work to jettison old knee-jerk habits that no longer serve me.