Everything awesome that occurs in my life happens when I’m not trying to make it so or force things forward. The brilliant ideas, deep conversations, meaningful connections, and most fruitful outcomes always seem to happen when I have no agenda; when I’m simply being aware, observing, and rolling with the tide.
Unfortunately, patience has never been my strong suit. I have tended to rush through things and be short-tempered. 5 minutes before a meeting, my mood would start to simmer in anticipation of other people’s tardiness. It showed up in my passion-hobby, too. My primary dance style requires a great deal of “waiting” and my struggles in it usually revolve around impatience.
In an effort to become a nicer, gentler version of myself, I began to “practice patience”. And I learned that patience is useless.
The problem with patience is that it keeps you in essentially the same state as being impatient. You’re waiting for something to happen. Much like trying not to be angry, ignoring hunger, and pretending that there isn’t a chocolate bar in the kitchen, practicing patience means spending a lot of energy thinking about the thing you’re trying not to think about.
It turns out that being present is what makes me, my life, my experiences, and my relationships better.
I used to object to the notion of “being present”, believing that by virtue of being alive and in a physical reality we are all, always, present. But over time, certain experiences and follow-on research convinced me that the human brain is terrible at living in real time and actually prefers the past and the future.
Good things don’t happen to me when I’m “practicing patience” – mostly I’m just hanging around stewing about what’s not happening. Great things DO happen to me when my energy is focused on what’s actually occuring – when I’m keenly observant, flowing from one moment to the next without anticipation or regret.
What’s your practice?
What’s something in your personality or your life that you’d like to change?
How much energy do you spend on trying to not-be or not-do that?
How could you redirect that energy into the present-progressive tense?
- How mindfulness meditation redefines pain, happiness & satisfaction – Dr. Kasim Al-Mashat, TEDxSFU
- Self-Transformation Through Mindfulness – Dr. David Vago, TEDxNashville
- Headspace – the app
- The Honest Guys’ 10-Minute Mindfulness Meditation