Musings: Cultivating Patience



I’m not proud to admit that as I get older, I’ve become more impatient. It could come from living in a city where everything is done efficiently and like clockwork. Or it could be that because as you get older and more experienced, you expect the same from others and your tolerance for tardiness and inefficiency decreases. I rarely entertain rudeness without speaking out, I expect people to treat my loved ones or myself with respect, and when things take too long, I feel a slight tinge of irritation which takes some self-control to rein in.

Does all this make me a better person? I’m not sure. Some would say it’s not a bad thing to have certain expectations of people and systems. After all, impatience, drive and effectiveness are often synonymous. But more often than not, I regret acting out of impatience. It doesn’t make me feel like a better person.

And then I realised why this is. Impatience hurts you more than the other party.

They say hating someone is like drinking poison and wishing the other person would die. It’s the same logic with impatience. Sure, snapping at someone or making a snide comment can release some of the frustration you feel, but apart from a momentary sting, the subject will move on and get on with their day. You, however, will feel all that frustration, act out like the bad guy, possibly seethe for hours after and then have to square with the knowledge that something crawled under your skin enough for you to lose your cool. I’ve found that it really isn’t worth it.

I find two questions very helpful for trying to stay patient with others:

  1. Could there be a hidden difficulty I might not understand that is causing the hold up?
  2. What is the most selfless thing I can do right this moment?

These questions almost always lead to one answer — Let it go.

I’ve never once regretted the decision to be the bigger person. And even if I do, I think it’s a small price to pay for the benefit of the doubt I give others that have actually paid off. Giving people the space to live in their own little part of the world how they like are the baby steps to freedom and a lasting peace.

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