Several years ago, when ordering a fish sandwich in a fast food joint, I was told it would take a while. “How long?” I inquired. “About a minute.”
A minute. I have to wait a whole minute! I don’t know if I can handle that!
Nowadays, requests for patience have shrunk to “wait a second!” And quite often, the answer is, “No, that’s too long!”
Think I’m kidding? How many times have you surfed the Web, clicking on another site if the download didn’t happen immediately? How many times have you skimmed your emails, deciding what to delete in less than a second?
So, what’s the big deal? This is the digital age. Things move along quickly or not at all.
The big deal is that the inability to wait doesn’t stop with the digital world. It effortlessly flows over to the non-digital world, creating a lack of patience with others, with situations and with your own ability to deal with life’s ups and downs.
Patience. It’s a great trait to possess. Without it, you’ll frequently find yourself feeling frustrated, infuriated and may even go ballistic. After all, life doesn’t always conform to your expectations. Neither do other people. Maddeningly, they keep behaving in ways that are completely irrational, stupid and self-absorbed.
Even your own brain doesn’t always conform to your expectations. Why can’t you figure this problem out more quickly? Why can’t you play this game more skillfully? Why can’t you control your emotions and behavior whenever you want? The other day you said something so stupid. You just don’t know what you were thinking!
Patience. It’s a great trait to possess. For with it, you’ll feel more compassion, both for yourself and for others. Since you know that life does not always conform to your expectations, you’re able to tolerate, (or even better, accept) when life throws you a curveball.
It could be a run-of-the-mill curveball. You find yourself in the midst of a major traffic jam. Rather than raging, you check your GPS for an alternative route. Alas, there is none. You then take a few deep breaths, resign yourself to being late, then settle in and listen to your favorite music. By doing so, you are showing compassion for yourself (no blame and shame accusations), and the situation (these things happen).
It could be a somber and serious curveball. Your teen has just been arrested for DUI. You have given her lecture after lecture about the dangers of drinking and driving. She has rolled her eyes, responding with, “Yes, Mom, I know.” How can you possibly be patient after this breach of trust? You want to smack her and scream, “How could you?” And yet, it is best for you and for the situation to be patient with what has just happened. For patience means compassion. You want to show compassion to yourself (your fears and disappointment). You want to show compassion to the better part of your daughter (not her actions). You want to feel grateful that no one has been killed.
Yes, patience is an admirable trait to possess, especially in our agitated, antsy, champing-at-the-bit society in which waiting a full second is often experienced as way too long.
Chick photo available from Shutterstock