I am sitting on a train and I want to look one word up on Google. I try and connect and after what feels like forever I manage to. Thinking the hard part is over I proceed to type the word, for which I want an exact definition, into Google: Patience.

Within two minutes I find myself going from frustration to impatience to anger bubbling up inside of me. How dare the wifi be slow? I recall that wonderful sketch by comedian Louis C.K. on “why everything is amazing and nobody is happy” and yet I still find myself livid because the wifi is not ‘good enough’. The world has accelerated at a relentless pace. We are now used to running with the flow. We do not like it when the flow stops.

It is frustration like this that encourages the creators that be to make things faster and easier to use. They work hard to ensure that we have quicker access to more information. This means we can do more in less time than ever before. Unfortunately, it also means that it is easier for us to get pissed off more than ever before. We can get really angry in a matter of seconds.

The more control we have been given over our environments, the higher the standards we have… and this is a good thing. The problem is that it also has a downside. When we were hunter gatherers, in order to survive, we developed the feeling of anger as a means to ensure that we could right something that was wrong. Anger was an elevated feeling that enabled us to fight… to stand up for ourselves… to ensure that things would happen the way they should happen.

But nowadays, such anger is often directed out into the world with no practical utility. We get angry and then we complain. Radio shows are often created based upon the premise that there are many people out there who love to complain and love to hear others complain. They feed off each other’s anger. It makes them feel alive. But the feeling of aliveness is as superficial as an adrenalin shot. It serves no useful purpose.

When we are impatient, it is because our perception of time and the reality of what is happening in time are in conflict. Our standards have not been met. This feels ‘wrong’. It feels ‘unjust’. Often, then, we react in a similar way as if we were actually wronged by someone. This is not good.

Patience requires us to learn the ability to accept what is and change how we think about the passing of time. When you see the lateness or slowness as being something that someone does as a result of inefficiency, ignorance or deliberation, you will find yourself bubbling with anger inside. But when you see the lateness or slowness as being something that is trying its best but is not having a good day… or as something which gives you a much needed opportunity to slow down for a while on the treadmill of life… you get the chance to feel differently despite what is going on.

Being patient does not mean lowering our standards. It means delivering feedback on what needs to change when necessary. But it also means raising the standards that we have about how we are going to live. We do not get angry about the weather. After we have offered feedback on something, getting angry at what is happening has the same usefulness as shouting at the clouds. So, realise that just as rain is necessary for a healthy earth… slowing down is necessary for a healthy mind. Next time your wifi is slow, do what I have learned to do… slow down, take a breath and appreciate what it means to spend more time on one thing. The beauty of focus.


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