Why Patience is Good for You

The keys to patience are acceptance and faith. Accept things as they are, and look realistically at the world around you. Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen.” – Ralph Marston

For a long time, patience was not my virtue. I was the most incredibly impatient person. Once I set an expectation, there was very little wiggle room before I felt like someone was out of my good graces. I could have been compared to the evil queen in Alice in Wonderland. I actually used to say to people, jokingly, “If the world just followed my rules, everything would be okay.”

As I grew older, life taught me patience and it was a hard lesson to learn. I didn’t know what patience was. I thought being patient was weakness. When you watch television, powerful people are generally impatient. Their time is money so you are always on their time.  I realized is that if you have no patience with your outer world then you have no patience with your inner world either. If you set unattainable expectations for everyone else, it is because you have high expectations for yourself. I realized that is why the powerful people who I watched were so impatient with others. But, everyone is not you. The lesson to learn is that everyone is in a different stage of their growth so to assume that they should move at your pace is unfair.

The other thing I realized is that I am placing my happiness in the hands of strangers. If they don’t do things in my time, I can never be happy. I can’t control what other people do. I can’t only control how I feel about what other people do. I read this incredible commencement speech by David Foster Wallace   where he gives a description of how you’ve worked a long day, you’re stuck in traffic and then you decide that you need to go to the supermarket. You are frustrated in traffic and then you are frustrated in line at the supermarket because all these people are in your way while you are just trying to get home and relax after your long day. You can choose to think that they are all in your way or you can understand that each person is also in the midst of doing something like you. It’s your choice to be irritated by it. If you have a chance to read it, you should check it out or watch the video. He says it in a much more entertaining and eloquent way and he goes into great detail about how we choose our thoughts.

As with everything in life, it’s not as much about the other person as it is about you. When you stress yourself out, your blood feels like it’s racing through your body and your stomach juices are bubbling up, who are you doing more damage to. It’s certainly not the person that you are frustrated with. It’s not possible to say that you, or even I, won’t be impatient from time-to-time. Personally, I have found ways to minimize my impatience. I bring a book when I know I am going to have to wait. If I am waiting for someone I know is going to be late, I take my time getting dressed. I think about what could be going on in that person’s life that prevented them from arriving on-time. It’s important to consider yourself as well. Everything is a balance. Patience does not mean that you allow someone to walk all over you. People have to respect your time as well. Patience means that you value yourself. You choose not to drive yourself crazy over what other people do, but you also choose not to associate with people who constantly drive you crazy. Patience is viewing  life and understanding that it’s not just trying to piss you off. Patience is compassion. Patience is grace.