“Adopt the pace of nature: Her secret is patience.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Life unfolds in spite of our impatience. The misfortune of it is that because of our impatience we don’t fully appreciate the joy and beauty of watching it unfold. And then there’s all the stress and discontentment along the way.
Especially today, with the rapid pace of modern life, lowering the level of impatience could help reduce a lot of the world’s stress. It is fortunate then that many of life’s experiences teach us that patience is possible. The impatience of youth, for instance, at last becomes patient because adulthood finally arrives. The impatience of the artist becomes patient because art is created. Driving in traffic becomes patient because the destination is finally reached.
Impatience, however, can have great costs. How much has impatience in people’s lives led to things that could have been but never were: a true friend lost because five minutes of conversation could not be spared; poor marks in school because of a lack of attention to instructors and instructions; immeasurable and uncountable opportunities gone by the wayside because judgment, anger and anxiety among other byproducts of impatience prevented people from ever knowing they existed.
‘The Art of Intelligent Waiting’
Impatience, it is clear, is not an emotion that befalls only an unfortunate few. It may be true that there is a lot of impatience in some people, but there is a little impatience in all people.
Institute of HeartMath Founder Doc Childre characterizes patience as “the art of intelligent waiting” – waiting with purpose, positive intention and a sincere belief that waiting is an important element in the unfolding of all things.
“Patience is the practice of maintaining a state of inner ease and resilience when you are tempted to be impatient,” Doc says, “especially when the mind wants to force results, rather than remain in flow.
“Impatience is an invitation to frustration, shallow discernment, and faulty choices. With a little heart-focused intention and practice, we can effect a makeover by replacing impatience with patience – the secret sauce in the recipe for flow. When our hearts truly commit to becoming patient, then our minds will cooperate, surrender their resistance and take purposeful steps to manifest it.”
Although we may not always consciously acknowledge when we have slipped into impatience, this emotion certainly is not an involuntary one. There is no reason we cannot opt to be patient in myriad situations throughout our busy days. Here are some common examples:
- Encountering a neighbor, colleague or other acquaintance while on our way to the office, store, a meeting or other place.
- Driving in stop-and-go traffic.
- Waiting on that seemingly endless spinning wheel on the computer screen.
- Listening to someone tell a long story about something that happened to him or her.
- Fidgeting or clock-watching near the end of the work or school day.
Think of a time when you grew impatient in any of the situations above. Did you tell yourself, “I don’t want to be here,” or “I don’t have time for this.” How much effort would it have taken if you had gone to your heart instead and told yourself, “I have a choice. I don’t have to be impatient. I can make peace with this situation.”
Coming Up — Patience Through Inner Ease