Heyya! Teresa here.
Ok, confession time. Patience is not what I had planned on talking with y’all about today. It’s not my favorite topic… I’ve never been inherently good at it.
Then life happened. And life told me that today I will either be patient, or I will be angry. The choice was mine.
You might have caught on by now that I’m big on writing about my own personal journey and helping people through my own experiences. And so here we are. Talking about patience.
We all know patience is important… a virtue, as they say. We want everyone else to have it, but at times we have a hard time practicing it ourselves. Oh wait, that’s just me?😉
Here’s the thing: having patience not only makes you easier to deal with from other people’s perspective, but it actually benefits you more than you might think.
In his bookDon’t Sweat the Small Stuff and it’s All Small Stuff,Carlson talks about having “Patience Practice Periods”. That is: setting a timeframe (say, 5 minutes) where you tell yourself “I am going to practice being patient. For the next 5 minutes, I will not let myself be bothered by anything”.
It may sound simple… it is! But the impact is amazing. When you areintentionallypatient, it is a much easier task. And when you accomplish being patient for 5 minutes, you quickly realize you can be patient for 10 minutes, then 15, and one day you might even find yourself to be a patient person!
Back to today.
I had a meeting to be at by 7. Usually, this would have been a 30-minute drive for me. I wanted to get there early to get some other work done, so I left my house at 5.
I quickly realized my mistake in driving across town during rush hour.
I had planned for it to take longer than usual, I just hadn’t realized howmuchlonger it would take. I pulled up Maps to see the fastest route. 1 hour and 16 minutes. Ugh.
After an exceptionally long week with little time to decompress, spending over an hour in the car with a mile-long to-do list was not exactly ideal. To make matters worse, as I drove the eta got longer and longer.
About halfway to my destination, I was waiting at a light to get on the freeway. I had been waiting in a line of traffic for over 10 minutes.
Then it happened. I was 3 cars away from being able to turn onto the on-ramp and a truck (who had not waited in the 10 minutes of traffic like everyone else) cut me off.
I. Was. Furious.
At least at first.
I let out a few choice words and gave him a “what do you think you’re doing” hand gesture with my arm that was hanging out the window. It didn’t make me feel any better.
At that moment it clicked. I said to myself “being angry at him doesn’t change how fast I’m going to get to my destination. He can be the jerk today. I’m not going to let this bother me.”
You know what happened?
Not only was I not angry, but I still got to my destination in the exact same amount of time I would have otherwise.
But it didn’t stop there. Once I decided not to be bothered andit worked, I suddenly realized the power I had! For the entire rest of the evening when I would feel irritability or negativity creeping in, I would make a conscious decision tonot let it bother me.
The person I was meeting was late. Great! More time for me to work.
Every line in the grocery store on the way home is at least 4 people long. I guess I’ll thumb through a magazine, this is out of my control anyway.
Life is full of these instances. Small opportunities for us to practice patience. If we don’t think of patience as a muscle to exercise, we may not recognize these instances as the opportunities that they are.
It’s amazing how liberating it is to realize how much control you have over your reactions to situations.
If you are naturally a patient person, that’s fantastic. But if you’re like me and can’t say patience is in your nature— know that there is hope.
When we practice patience we also practice not reacting to a situation with stress. Do I need to go into the benefits of stressing less, or do we have that one down?
Patience is a muscle that gets better the more we exercise it. Even though it’s difficult at first, it becomes more natural the more you use it.
I guarantee you that if you start practicing patience today, you will see your life transform in unexpected ways. You may even one day look back at your current self and say, “I can’t believe I used to let myself get so crazy about this sort of thing!”
Remember: it’s all just small stuff anyways.
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