If Patience is a Virtue, Impatience is a Vice

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November 15, 2011

They say that patience is a virtue, and if that’s the case, then one of our society’s biggest vices has to be impatience. How often each day do you get pissed off that it takes a webpage longer than just a few seconds to load? And, I bet you can recall an experience in a check-out line recently where you allowed yourself to get annoyed with the person who stepped in line 10 seconds before you with too many items, or worse yet, who had the dreaded item that requires a price check. Driving to yoga class or work, do you always get behind someone who isn’t moving fast enough for you, especially when you are running late?

All of the above are times to take a deep breath, let your shoulders drop, truly relax, and try some patience on for size. It feels pretty darn good when you do.

This patience thing has been top of mind for me the past few months as I have struggled to keep it in check with some projects I’ve been working on. These are big projects, and when I think about the amount of work required, it can get a little daunting. I start the project and then very quickly lose patience with myself over how long it is going to take, or even worse, I abandon the project because I let my fear or judgment get in the way.

One of the things I love about attending yoga classes is that – somehow magically – the yoga teachers always seem to know what I need to hear. It’s like getting a shot of encouragement and wisdom wrapped up with reassuring breaths and the added bonus of a few hip openers that together help me let go of some of my angst. Last week during the centering exercise at the beginning of a yoga class, I got the gift of one of these epiphanies in the form of some really awesome advice about patience. The instructor, Linda Stevenson, talked about breaking down large tasks into small attainable steps, then simply starting with the first step and focusing on accomplishing that first piece (Linda teaches at Pulse Brunswick). When you can put your focus on the task at hand, instead of worrying about reaching the end goal, it allows you to do that one specific thing with all of your focus. And, guess what? All that attention and patience will allow you to do kick-ass work. When the first step is checked off the list, you can move onto the next one with the reassuring satisfaction that you are one step closer to your goal.

Guess who spent the next day mapping out those projects in small bite-sized steps? This patience stuff can be pretty powerful.

“Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement, and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.”

– Brian Adams

I shared this same message with my yoga classes last week and reminded them that practicing patience is one thing they could bring to their yoga mat each and every time. Don’t beat yourself up that you can’t get your heels to the floor in downward dog or that you lost your balance during tree pose. Be patient with yourself. Know that each time you come to the mat, your heels are getting a little closer to the ground, and that if you fall during a balance pose, you should be happy because it means you showed up and you tried! Good things really do come to those who wait…patiently.

We should have patience with all things, but especially so with ourselves.

My New Favorite Mantra

Remember not to get annoyed when things don’t happen fast enough. Break down your dreams into small, attainable steps. Learn to accept what is, embrace life in each present moment, and your impatience will melt away to be replaced by peace of mind.

Patience Image: Tom Pickering

 

 

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