Patience"Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one
you noticed how much suffering is generated by impatience? A kind
hearted friend who has dedicated her life to helping the poorest people
becomes enraged when the person in a car ahead of her holds up traffic
to pour a cup of coffee for a beggar at a freeway onramp. People in
line at a grocery store become upset when the people ahead of them are
slow getting out their checkbook. A teacher becomes impatient and
ultimately disheartened when the students don’t learn. The patient
becomes impatient when the doctor can’t find the trouble. Impatience
feeds anger and habitual anger means habitual unhappiness.
have our schedules and agendas, and we don’t like them to be messed
with. Sometimes impatience arises out of our judgment of others. We
think they should do things as we would. When we experience impatience,
we may be having a compassion deficit. The other person with whom we
are impatient may have different values, abilities, and goals than we
do, and we don’t know what stressors they may be dealing with. Would we
be so annoyed if we could see through the eyes of that slowpoke ahead
Often our impatience occurs when our goals are
frustrated. We want to be somewhere other than where we are. We want
in and out of the store quickly because we have someplace else to be
that is better or more important. We want out of line, we want out of
the doctor’s office, we want off the freeway, off the phone, out of the
conversation. We are interested in being somewhere other than in the
We can reduce our suffering and that of those around us by
observing our tendency toward impatience. Start by noticing when you
feel impatient. You might notice increased muscle tension or physical
movements like finger drumming or shifting of your weight from foot to
Notice the thoughts that go with the impatience.
the judgments you are making. What would happen if you just stopped
judging other people? It takes practice. Try going to a public place
and suspending judgment of the people you see or interact with. Let
them be without your stamp of approval or disapproval.
you catch yourself judging others, remind yourself that you don’t
really know their circumstances. You don’t know what challenges they
are facing in life. Who are you to judge?
When the impatience
arises, ask yourself what rule is being broken that is causing your
dissatisfaction. Is it a rule about the importance of speed, or about
competence, or about fairness? Is there some unrealistic rule that you
are holding others to?
What do you notice that you are lacking
when your impatience rears up? Is it time? Money? Love? Is there a fear
that something is being taken away from you?
You personally may
be an efficient being with unerring judgment and catlike reflexes, but
many around you are less so. So slow down. Enjoy wherever you are at
the moment. Turn off the self-talk and take the moment of inconvenience
as an opportunity to practice quietude.
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