I’d like to think that, at least for most of my adult life, I’ve been a pretty patient person. I don’t make impulsive or rash decisions and I try to size up any situation before making a move one way or another. I also know that for any decision there is an infinite number of outcomes, most of which I cannot possibly predict.
Google’s online dictionary defines “patience” as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. If you can be calm and rational in an unnerving situation, like a long line at the grocery, or sitting in an extended traffic jam, you’re probably a pretty patient person. But patience is not something everyone is born with, nor do many people recognize when it’s best applied.
Modern American society is probably of the most impatient (not to mention entitled) on Earth. Road rage incidents, the chaotic nonsense that is “Black Friday” shopping, and even our government officials who prefer to rant like teenagers on Twitter rather than show a moment of decorum.
Incidents like this hinge on one very important component – human behavior. A negative reaction from one person is rarely going to evoke a positive one from another.
So, whenever one person becomes unhinged, loses his or her patience, in a difficult situation, it’s very likely others will too. Now you have a sort of cascading emotional tsunami that goes from person to person like “the wave” at a football game.
But there is another tentacle to the impatience monster – immediate gratification. Our societal demand for immediate gratification is probably most evident whenever a new Apple tech product is announced.
Ridiculously materialistic people, desperately pretending not to be, somehow think to have the latest i-junk will bring enlightenment, wait in line for days to throw their money at a multi-billion-dollar corporation whose stockholders are laughing all the way to the bank.
No one “needs” this stuff and we certainly don’t immediately, spending countless hundreds of dollars more than you might if you just wait a few months. Our impatience is detrimental in so many ways, the least of which is financial. Our health also suffers.
From very recent experience, I can testify that there are no shortcuts to safeguarding our health. As a society, we’re always looking for the quick fix, the silver bullet, or in most cases, the pill that will make us perfectly healthy. But there just is no such thing.
Modern Americans will easily buy into nonsense supplements, diet fads and exercise gadgets to lose weight or maintain “health” rather than committing to long-term lifestyle changes. There again, impatience winning over a calm, rational evaluation of the situation and sensible plan for success.
Of course, this all sounds great on paper, but no one is perfect. We are all susceptible to impulsive choices, desperation, peer pressure and the pressures of busy lives.
It might sound hokey, but relaxing meditation, regular exercise, a healthier diet, and just taking a moment to explore a few of your options, can all help slow things down a bit. I know it took me a very long time to learn the level of patience I have today, and that is by no means constant.
Caring for my mother during her long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease probably taught me more about patience than anything else in my life to that point. It was a great deal of waiting, no answers, nothing we could do to stop the advance of the disease, even helping her to eat sometimes took hours.
I guess the point to all of this is that there are simply no shortcuts to life, and we must learn patience if we’re going to get anywhere. Pushing forward is great but if it’s done without a moment’s pause, we’re likely always going to be reacting to outside influences from our own impatience.
Patience might be a virtue, for whatever that’s worth, but it’s not easy. But if you do everything you can to be calm and think things through, you can be assured of a more positive outcome.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at deerinheadlines.com