Patience is a funny thing. He and I have a love-hate relationship. (By that I mean, I hate being patient, and I love being impatient.)
My dislike of patience knows no bounds. For example:
- I don’t enjoy walking places. If you ever ask me, “Want to go for a walk?” I will ask you, “Why?”
- If there is a faster means of getting somewhere, I wish to take that means. I would ride a Razor scooter to the park before walking there. For real, give me a helmet and some elbow pads and I’m zoomin’.
- I skim through books. Not just boring books, but books that I’m quite interested in. I will assess a paragraph for importance, then either read it or skip on accordingly. (How I got good grades in school, I’ll never know.)
I trick myself by saying I like to be efficient; I’m all about efficiency! (This is true, but not an excuse.) But efficiency doesn’t equal happiness. Efficiency doesn’t equal inner calm.
So, I decided to take a deep dive into why patience is not only a virtue, but necessary for a balanced life. Here is what I found, and why you should start practicing patience:
- Heart disease
- You think I’m kidding?!
- In a 2003 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers reported that the more impatient and hostile the 18- to 30-year-old study participants felt, the more likely they would develop high blood pressure later in life.”
- To give this some color: imagine a Buddhist monk versus a guy in a suit from Wall Street waiting in line at the DMV. Imagine that happening every day for a year. If we monitored their vitals, I wonder who would be healthier?
- You’re missing good stuff
- When you and I skip over seemingly “unimportant” parts, like walking to the coffee shop instead of driving, we miss small things. We miss the birds chirping. We miss seeing kids laughing and playing in the park.
- You’re also missing a great opportunity to slow down. You’re missing the opportunity to do something with intention and purpose, rather than just doing it as a means to an end.
- This is why mindfulness is such a hot topic right now; being in the moment cultivates happiness.
- Being impatient doesn’t make the world go faster
- Being impatient wont make your life more efficient. You will not get more things done in a day by being an impatient person. Rather, you will get exactly the same amount of things done, but will be unhappier and more stressed.
- Patience requires self-control, so this is another chance to strengthen that muscle. Self-control is hard for everyone, so any chance to practice it should be FULLY taken advantage of. Perhaps not reaching for that 3rdcookie or glass of wine will be easier.
When something that makes logical sense (see all reasons above) doesn’t come natural to me, it normally means I need to take another look at it. Usually, the reason I’m avoiding something, in this case patience, is connected to something bigger.
I’m sure there are different reasons for everyone, but for me, slowing down freaks me out. I genuinely get a little twinge of anxiety, it’s not just annoying. After some careful thought, I’ve come to realize that my impatience is being pushed by my fear of not doing enough. I feel that if I’m not being productive and using every millisecond of my time wisely, I’m not worthy of ________ (fill in the blank).
“If I’m not being productive, I am not worthy.”
For example, if I’m waiting in line at the grocery store forever, this means I am more than likely “missing out” on getting more accomplished in my day.
Cue: INTERNAL FREAKOUT.
“I NEED TO BE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT NOW! HURRY UP! THIS IS LOWERING MY WORTHINESS BY THE SECOND!”
Interestingly enough, now that I’ve identified the reason behind my disdain for patience, I clearly see how silly it is. My impatience is creating more anxiety than being patient would. My anxiety is NOT stemming from waiting in line, but from something else entirely.
Do you have times when you’re impatient? Could you practice slowing down too? Try and think about the reasons behind the impatience when you’re in the moment. Literally ask yourself (preferably in your head and not audibly in the DMV line), “What is causing this? Why am I agitated? Where is this coming from?” Maybe your reason won’t be a reason at all, and you’ll be able to talk yourself into becoming more patient over time.