The art of being patient.

If you’re anything like me patience is something that doesn’t come easily: whether it be having to stand in endless queues; trying to get hold of someone only to be being put on hold having gone through endless options; waiting for your concoctions to cook properly when you’re ‘starving’ (just recently I was so impatient for some pasta to cook that I ended up serving it semi-raw; which would have been delicious had I waited for a whole two more minutes). The list is endless…

And anyone who’s visited the wonderful, yet somewhat frenetic city of Rome will be all too aware of the daily racket of fists being angrily pressed into horns in the firm conviction that it’ll either make the non-moving traffic move faster or at least help the agitated drivers to feel better about being stuck in it!

Of course we are all becoming conditioned to live in the fast lane, with the comparative luxury of things happening quickly and immediately. The monumental technological advances of the last 10 years alone enable us to communicate, book, organise, shop, email, bank, socially connect, and show the world the evidence of all our endeavours at the speed of lightning! (Well OK - apart when that speed is curtailed by the frustrating process of having to remember one of about fifteen passwords, which is enough to try anyone’s patience).

What is more serious is, having established a major goal in life, to subsequently have to undergo a never ending WAITING GAME for it to happen – during which time it seems there is no choice but to endure delay after an obstacle or new challenge. Anyone who’s tried to buy a house, set up or expand their business, find a new job, or decide they want to change other aspects of their life may be familiar with this.

But in the majority of situations impatience achieves nothing, apart from making us feel irritated, annoyed, jumpy, unfocused…and certainly does absolutely nothing to hurry things up! 

Having had the privilege of visiting the much slower paced country of Burma earlier this year, and witnessing the serenity and genuine contentment of many of its people (who, and I’m under no illusion, do live in very challenging circumstances), it was easy to see the stark comparison of this with the stressed, wired behaviour closer to home; and the fact that there is undoubtedly a lot to be said for calming down a bit - and learning the art of patience.

So here’s some food for thought, and a bit of guidance for acquiring this new skill (from someone who’s working hard at it herself!):

  • When establishing a new goal in life, decide whether or not you’re in it for the long-term. Be realistic and prepare yourself for possible delays in the process. Keep focusing on the goal but also be very aware of the steps you need to take (however small) to reach the outcome you want.
  • Accept that at times you may have to take a few steps back to find a new path, so to speak. Try and enjoy the progress you are making as well as keep reaffirming the final desired outcome.
  • Try as much as possible to live in and enjoy the present moment rather than worrying about what needs to happen in the future. The practice of mindfulness is a great detox for the mind, which can just be about taking a few minutes to notice what’s around you (rather than listening to endless mind chatter).
  • Impatience can mean giving up if you don’t get something right first time. If you’re struggling with a new task or skill, leave it and come back to it a bit later on with fresh eyes. The main thing is not to let impatience take over and entice you to give up!
  • Be tolerant, not just with others but with yourself. The person who suffers most from your own impatience is you!
  • Be aware that time flies, and that an investment in the future (as opposed to an immediate result) can pay dividends. Six weeks ago I returned to London after a trip to the fast-paced Japan to be welcomed by the most wonderful surprise: a fully flowering Wisteria in my garden, in full bloom for the first time since planting it seven years ago; proof that the best things in life really ARE worth waiting for!

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