I’m one of those people who jab the elevator button to get it to arrive faster. I tend to stand as close as politely possible to the person in line in front of me so I can be ready when it’s my turn. I’m usually in a hurry whenever I drive, whether I’m in a hurry or not.
I simply am eager to get the next thing done so I can hurry up and relax. Like all things, this “activator” trait is both a curse and a blessing. I’m a pretty productive person and the feeling of accomplishment motivates me. But I am also typically not a patient person. Waiting and anticipating are usually hard for me.
It has not been a conscious effort, where I worked hard to hurry up to become more patient. But as I look back and reflect, the change has been a great side effect of other changes going on in my life. But I should also point out that my newfound patience is also specific to a certain type of waiting, i.e. when I’m waiting for outcomes that I have no control over.
When I do have control, I continue to jab at elevator buttons (well it seems to work), and do the busy-bee thing until my task has the outcome I desire. When I don’t have control, I can now let go of my expectation and impatience.
When I’ve reflected back on what is a huge change for me and the underlying reasons, I believe it has to do with the following four things.
First, I’ve learned to let go of things that I cannot control. If I can make a difference or an impact, then by golly, off I go to do my thing. Complacent, I am not. However, if I can’t control it (and unlike the elevator button, I try to be realistic here), then there’s no point in investing time and energy in futility. That effort is better spent elsewhere. Important reminder: we cannot control other people’s actions, thoughts or feelings even if we think we should be able to. We can try to influence them, but influence is much more difficult if emotion is tied to their thoughts or logic.
Second, I’ve learned to be more present. Worrying about the future fosters impatience. You just want to get to that future where you know the outcome, instead of enjoying the moment you have now. It’s hard to be impatient when you’re focusing on the present moment. But the present moment is all we have. Savor it.
Third, I’ve learned to accept outcomes without judgment. Whether you believe outcomes are God’s will, the universe’s will, or neither/both, what is undeniable is that if the outcome has already occurred, it was meant to be. Because it Is. If it has happened already, then it is our reality. Period.
“Expectation is the root of all heartache” – (my man) William Shakespeare
Finally, our choice is now whether “when life hands you lemons, (you) make lemonade” or you just sit there feeling sour and dyspeptic. Setback is opportunity, even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment.
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us” – Alexander Graham Bell
Despite my usual impatient M.O., I have also always believed that things always work out best in the end. To me, that statement is not a cliché, it is my reality. I believe that paradigm is true for me because I’ve always been able to find the silver lining in situations, both good and bad. I also believe, as Bell implies, that being receptive to an alternative happy ending makes it more likely that a happy ending will occur. It might even be better than the one you imagined. Maybe that’s the advantage of having a limited imagination – life is better than we often give it credit for.
“There are more things on Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” – (my man) William Shakespeare