When it comes to being patient with something or someone, if you don’t love, or at least greatly enjoy, something about your surroundings or what you’re waiting for, you will not be able to be patient for long.
When it comes to being patient, we all understand it is extremely important. We are told as a child to wait for dinner, wait for Christmas, wait for it to get nice out, wait wait wait. As adults we wait for our coffee, we wait for our spouses to get ready, we wait for a raise, wait wait wait.
Yet most of us have a hard time waiting.
For something that we really do every day we are really bad at it. Not being patient makes people angry, it ruins relationships, it starts fights, and it makes people have pretty bad days.
I remember being in a Tim Hortons drive thru as a kid one time along with my brother and my dad. In this line there were two lines to order from, and as most of us know, in this situation we take turns so that everyone can get through the line quickly. Simple and easy.
Let me tell you, it didn’t work out that way this time.
Both lines were obviously in a rush this day, but one side a little more than the other. A lady from the first line decided that waiting just wasn’t for her, so she got in front of the second line effectively skipping their turn.
This really ticked off the impatient girl in second line who was also obviously in a rush and didn’t want to wait.
When the lady in the second line finally got through, she was in such a rage that she got out of her car, walked up to the car in front of her, pulled out the girl driving that car and proceeded to start a fist fight.
This girl was understandably in a rush but was so impatient that she felt the need to physically express herself to the next driver.
Imagine if we acted this way when things were more serious. Someone might burn their house down if the construction is taking too long, why not get a divorce because your wife took an extra two minutes to put mascara on, I’m sure many of us would have done something terrible to a coworker and/or boss.
In business I like to live by the words of Garry Vanerchuk, “You need to practice macro patience and micro speed.”
Again, hard to live by, especially if we don’t necessarily love what we’re doing. In reality, things may take 5, 10, 15 or more years to accomplish.
The question to be asked is how can we practice macro patience if we don’t enjoy what we’re doing on a micro scale?
The answer that I’ve found to this question is to not focus on the things that we hate or the things that bother us or even the thing that we’re waiting for.
Yes, we could do as those self help “gurus” tell us and tell ourselves, “I love being here”, “I love waiting for coffee”, “I love waiting for my spouse to get ready”, “I love entertaining my children when I have really important things to take care of”, etc.
But lying to ourselves and trying to trick ourselves doesn’t actually help. It might put a bandage on the problem, but it won’t heal the wound. If anything, it distracts us while the wound gets infected and we eventually lose our hand (or lose our shit).
What we need to do is look for something in the situation that we truly, genuinely, without faking it, like.
It may seem like a simple concept that you don’t want to take seriously, but think of the last time you got impatient and think of what you were thinking about at the time. Usually when you’re impatient you are directly focused on how something always takes so long or how you hate waiting.
If instead you looked for something exciting or interesting you will find you can be much more patient.
When waiting for coffee maybe the room smells really good, maybe there’s some interesting art to look at, maybe you were just out in the warm sun and you can remember the feeling of the warmth on the back of your neck.
When waiting for a spouse you could acknowledge how nice it is to sit down and relax for a minute, you can admire your beautiful home, you can listen to music and enjoy the sound of that.
When it comes to being patient, instead of actually trying to be patient, you need to find something that makes you happy and doesn’t require patience.
For myself as an example, when I need to be patient and wait for something, I do one of my favourite tasks. Observe human behaviour. Whenever I’m waiting for something, I watch how people walk, study how groups come together and try to make connections that the world doesn’t see.
By focusing on something I love while doing something I don’t necessarily enjoy doing, I can practice extreme patience.
I don’t enjoy waiting for coffee, I really don’t enjoy sitting at the airport for hours and I am just as patient as any one else. The difference is that I know what I do enjoy, and I know how to find the things that I enjoy in the things that I don’t.