The car in front of me is too slow. The restaurant workers are too slow. I’m waiting to hear about that important interview I had a few days ago. The serviceman only comes out on Thursdays, so I have to get my mailbox key next week. I’m pushing thirty and I don’t have a million dollar business, a best-selling book, or an international award. I strive for 100% productivity, but I always flop at something. I want every single student to pass their test, but it seems I have failed. From quotidian logistics to exceptional dreams, it seems I want to be three steps ahead of present reality. I struggle with chronic restlessness, always asking, “What’s next?” “Am I there yet?”
While my inherent drive may lead to relative success, I’m afraid I’ll never fully enjoy any success because I’m too busy chasing after more. I’ll never enjoy the life I have if I keep thinking it’s not good enough. I’ll never enjoy the ride if I’m obsessed with how fast I can get to the destination.
So, I’ve tried making myself drive in the right lane without passing anyone, no matter how slow. I’ve forced myself to wait on a burger no matter how long the line. I’ve kept my mouth shut even when I could complain about a tedious process. I’ve stopped checking my email every ten minutes to see if the recruiter has gotten back to me. I listen to the entire song even when the end is monotonous.
Then there are the more spiritual practices I try to keep: spending the first thirty minutes of my day attending completely to my senses instead of my to do list, being quiet and still in the least likely moments, praying, breathing, filling my mind with positive words (try greatday.com), and smiling for no apparent reason. These small, but potent activities not only cultivate patience, they foster inner peace.
I’m proud to say that I do a lot of reading. Yes, some of it falls into the category of “self-help,” but I think of it as “do-it-yourself” psychology, or DIY PSY. If you think you’re up for the task of cultivating patience and fostering peace, here are two sources that I found helpful: “The Mindfulness Guide for the Super Busy” on ZENHABITS.NET and “How to Face Reality and Make Peace With Yourself” on OPRAH.COM.
Sarah L. Webb
What’s in your hand?