Te Ching No. 67 Translation by S. Mitchell
How does one cultivate patience in this go, go, go world? We are urged to be the best, to be the first, to claw our way to the top, drive fast cars, eat fast food, buy faster computers. That change is good is a primary value in Western culture. Being first is another. How can we square this with Lao Tzu’s urging to be patient so that we may accord with the way things are?How to do patience:
Patience, in the above quote from the Tao Te Ching, is sometimes translated as "Daring not to be ahead of others," or "Not daring to be ahead of the world." "Daring" is an interesting word to use. It suggests taking a risk. Sometimes we think we risk not being heard or seen if we aren’t the first to put forth our ideas. We may think we risk missing opportunity by not pushing to the head of the line. On the other hand, the well considered idea will be more valued than one that is rushed. Opportunities arise in their own time. Sometimes being second or third is better than first, because you can learn from the mistakes of those who’ve gone ahead.
Patience, or daring not to go ahead of the world, allows us to get the feel of a situation, to understand context. Patience allows a chain of events to flow in it’s natural rhythm. When we hurry events to go where we want them to, we may just cause turbulence. When we act in the right time, we get results with less effort and less disturbance.
Lao Tzu says, "Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are." This point of view interlocks with his recommendation of compassion. When, in compassion, we understand other people and their motivations, and we open our hearts to them, we become more patient. When you really listen to the story of one with whom you are angry or impatient, you come to understand what motivates them and what holds them back. We frail and inadequate humans have all been bumped around. Patience grants us the time to understand people and the way things are.
Listen more. Before putting yourself forward, be sure you understand your circumstances. Listen to what others have to say. Don’t be afraid of silence in a discussion.
Breathe. When you find yourself becoming impatient, angry, or irritable, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Do this a few times.
Relax. Tell yourself to relax. Scan your body for tension. Invite the tension to release.
Talk to yourself. Tell yourself that everything is in it’s place and events are unfolding, so it’s OK to wait.
Be aware of your emotions, especially anger and anxiety. Anger and anxiety waste energy. They are not helpful.
Act when the time is right. Patience is not procrastination. It is releasing action only when the correct moment has arrived.
Keep life simple. Don’t over-schedule. Give yourself room to breathe. Think the best of people and you can avoid complications in relationships. Tell the truth and you won’t have so much to remember.
Be kind to yourself and cut yourself some slack. Do the same for others.
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