These days we are living in an ‘instant’ world, where we have fast-food, high speed internet and social media. We are told that time is money and productivity and efficiency have taken the place of well-being. Without knowing it our expectations have risen and we have all speeded our lives up. But the convenience brought on by this ‘instant’ world comes at a price. We seem to have lost the art of patience. If the web page doesn’t load in 10 seconds, we lose interest. If we are not served our fast food straight away, we become irritated. If the person in front of us is talking to the cashier, we get frustrated. If our friends do not instantly like the photo we have put on Facebook, we start to think they no longer like us. In fact, if we get any interruption in our day, we become impatient. Because everything is so fast we are not getting the time to deliberate. We are just going with knee-jerk reactions. You can see this on Twitter when someone has to withdraw their tweet, because they hadn’t given themselves time to really think the whole situation through.
Now seems a good time for us to start cultivating patience, as the best time to cultivate this part of ourselves is when things are not going well. Here are some ways that you may find useful.
Slow down – our minds are constantly jumping from thought to thought, task to task and from one worry to another. We are told that multi-tasking is the only way we can get on in life. All of these things put our minds into a state of hurry. The mind makes situations bigger than they actually are and we start to feel over-whelmed. I suggest you stop once in a while and breathe. Find a quiet place, sit comfortably, lightly close your eyes and place your awareness on your breath. This brings you into the present moment, and from here you are able to see things more clearly. This will help you let go of your irritation and become more patient.
Gratitude – we all find it easy to celebrate the big moments of our lives, but the largest part of life is taken up by small moments. It is these small moments we need to be grateful for, such as hearing a bird sing, someone smiling at you or the meal you are about to eat. When we take time out of our day, we start to appreciate that life is good and the world is not against us. These moments of gratitude make us contented, happy, and above all, calm, and when we are calm it is easier to cultivate patience.
We are not always right – we become very impatient when things don’t go our way, or someone doesn’t do something the way we want them to. This is because we want to control every situation to suit our needs. But life doesn’t work like that. It is impossible for us to learn anything new with such a closed mind. Yes, you may have been doing your job for many years, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way of doing it. Change is all around us and if we are not open to it we become frustrated and impatient. When our minds are open we change, we naturally become more patient. So before you get angry at someone for not doing things your way, stop for a moment and consider their point of view – that is patience
Meditation – when we meditate regularly we start to feel an inner calm, and after some time we are able to take that calmness out into our daily lives. This allows us to see situations in an open minded and non-agitated way. It gives us the space to respond to the situation and not just blindly react to it. When we are calm, we are naturally patient. We are not judging, controlling or fighting the situation. We are just seeing it for what it is, and this takes the pressure off of us. During your meditation practice you can focus on times that you have been impatient. This will allow you to observe patterns. Once we are aware of the things that make us impatient, we can start to work on antidotes, such as the things I have mentioned above.
There is no doubt that the world is getting faster and our brains are struggling to cope with that. So if we can find ways to slow our thought processes down, become grateful for our lives, understand that we are not always right and we put aside some time every day to meditate, we are going to be able to cultivate patience. This will help us face this ‘instant’ world.