Thursday, March 26, 2015

One Surprising Skill That Helps Us Achieve

Benjamin Franklin said: "He that can have patience can have what he will". William Penn said: "Patience and diligence, like faith, remove mountains."

Patience is defined as the capacity to endure waiting, delay or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties. 

Patience and delaying instant gratification to achieve a long term goal is linked to higher levels of achievement and plain old happier people. Patience is currently underrated. It is only natural since we deal with immediacy constantly. Limitless things can be acquired in a split second: a house, a car, anything. Everything is fast: fast internet connections, fast-foods, quick fixes, and so on. We value immediacy because it can be very helpful in our daily lives.

However, whenever we encounter a problem or even engage in a project that involves waiting, we sometimes get frustrated, causing our anxiety levels to rise leading to all sorts of problems to our health and our well-being.

Patience results in feelings of peace and acceptance. It doesn't mean inactivity. It means that in order to achieve, you sometimes need to wait actively. Not just quit, only because you are too frustrated with a problem. It surely feels good whenever you decide that for the next half hour you are going to practice being patient and just not be bothered. Automatically, your heart rate goes back to normal, you accept the present moment and wait until you achieve your goal.

Have you ever caught yourself hurrying through traffic jams? I certainly have! Usually it's the school run. It takes me less than thirty seconds to realize that I intend to fly over hundreds of cars and that it is completely impossible and ridiculous! So, now that I'm trying to consciously practice patience, whenever I realize that I am starting to become impatient, I breathe, exhale and think: "You are here, you can't move, so you better breathe and focus on enjoying the ride. Because that is your only option, Alina." Yes, I do talk to myself sometimes...not out loud...I think :)

So, how do we become more patient? I did some research and there is one simple answer: practice.

Also, know that you will eventually get what you are expecting. You need that pulling force. The farmer that plants bamboo knows that he will have to water the seeds for 4 years until he sees actual bamboo canes. Four years, that's patience!! The roots take a lot of time to develop until the canes start to grow. But patience pays off and canes grow very fast afterwards. Having a vision of your goals makes the waiting possible.  

Wait actively. If you are stuck in line at the post office. Rather than focusing on the problem that frustrates you, e.g. the post office clerk is extremely slow, see the innocence in his behavior and bypass blame. Richard Carlson, in his book Don't Sweat The Small Stuff, explains how seeing the innocence in people's behaviors results in feelings of patience. Your attention is brought back to the moment, not to the snow ball effect pattern of thinking that accelerates your heart rate. You are there, in line. You have to wait, and you decide that the clerk must be going through problems of his own. Then you breathe, exhale and you will eventually get what you want, but only if you keep at it!

Are you patient? Good for you!

(Painting by Martha Belén, aka my mom, for Eclecticalu)

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