THE LOST ART OF PATIENCE

Is patience an art? I’m not sure. I’m also not sure if it’s lost because that implies having had it in the first place. Babies have zero patience. There’s no way you could convince me otherwise.

I’ll tell you what is an art: the way of a Stoic. Stoicism is an ancient Greek philosophy that could help more than a few of us correct our course today. The Stoics were all about living a virtuous life. We don’t do that. They advocated for a life of moderation. We don’t do that either.

Stoics used to say;

“Nothing is ever enough when you are always wanting more.”

We want more.

One of the greatest virtues of all is patience, and it’s about as rare as Willy Wonka’s golden ticket.

Fast forward a few centuries to the age of outrage, where, thanks to the Internet, social media, and algorithms—all you have to do is scroll through your newsfeed to be exposed to trolls and all you oppose. This is a distraction.

We’re also living in an age of instant gratification where we’re conditioned to believe we can have it all. And worse—we can have it now.

Recently, Facebook keeps showing me this chick — who calls herself an “influencer” — selling a product to help other wannabe influencers achieve this new age celebrity that will make them more influential than Taylor Swift and One Direction combined. Her words. Clearly, she’s fucking delusional. Unfortunately, so are thousands more who are ready to drop whatever they’re doing to follow her ten-step bulletproof plan to new age stardom. This is a problem. It’s not the only problem, but it is one of them. It also happens to be an example of something that drives me batshit crazy. Two stones.

Where does it end?

It ends where the Stoics began. It ends when you dust off your bullshit radar, stick a set of new antennas on it, and stop buying into overly hyped tripe. And believe me, I’ve bought my fair share.

We are the problem because we fuel the fire.

We focus our energy on what we think the solution is—not what it is. And in doing so, we often give our identity away. Which, as you can imagine, is rarely a good thing.

This article is not about becoming an influencer. This is about patience, or a lack thereof, and the consequences of it all.

Maybe it’s the love of your life you’re yet to find? (Because you’re not quite good enough yet)

Maybe it’s dealing with a loss or processing a trauma?

That six-figure salary or a seven-figure business you’re yet to figure out?

I don’t know what it is for you, but a lack of patience will only induce unnecessary suffering and potentially lead you to make rash decisions with terrible outcomes.

Marketers no longer only go after your fears. They want your identity. At least the unethical ones do. Unfortunately, many people appear only too willing to gamble something so huge on the potential for something they perceive to be so “great.”

And then what happens?

Usually a lot more wrong than right.

Of course, it’s good to be ambitious and to have goals, but the more impatient you grow, the less likely you are to achieve them.

Sometimes our identity is taken from us. Sometimes we give it away. When this happens, you become one-dimensional. And by that I mean, you choose suffering because you give away your happiness as a future reward for achieving whatever it is that will give you your identity back. And now you’ve got an identity crisis.

In today’s world, do you think people have patience when it comes to love?

Do you think people have patience with their career or their business?

Their relationships?

Their physical health?

Mental health?

Emotions?

This is getting serious. And what happens when you lose your mind a little? You want it fixed. Immediately. Do you think people have the patience for this? Fuck no!

So, what does this lack of patience do?

Exactly. It perpetuates the problem.

WHY ARE WE SO IMPATIENT?

We could dive into this at length, but I have as much patience for that as you, so let’s just agree that a lot of it comes down to a lack of self-worth.

It’s not your fault. You’re pretty much conditioned to believe you’re worthless until you achieve “greatness.” And the messaging is so subliminal that it’s almost impossible to detect. Dummy.

You reach a point where you feel you must be perfect, and you don’t even know who you’re doing it for anymore. This kinda fucks everything up because now you’re firing on all cylinders in a hamster wheel which you won’t get off until you run out of gas. And then you’ve got to go and find more fuel.

The Paradox of choice is deadly. In a world where everybody is trying to sell their dream while packaging it as yours—your possibilities become endless which makes it easy to quit and move on to something new when you don’t get your desired results in a short amount of time.

We’re bouncing around like the fucking Gummy Bears in pursuit of shortcuts that are marketed as easy, oblivious to the fact that if they were easy—they’d just be the way!

THE COST OF IMPATIENCE

Burnout, Depression, anxiety, stress, frustration, anger, resentment, addiction, and rage to name a few. The list goes on. It’s full-scale stack of crap.

As Mother Theresa said;

“Without patience, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually means less.”

A lot of what’s going on in the world today is talk because it’s easier than action—and if you just put your goals out there, the Universe will do the rest. Apparently. And because we’re conditioned to feel inadequate, many of us make bold claims to compensate for it. “I’m going to do X, Y, and Z.”

Accountability is great, but there’s accountability and accountability. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to share my ambitions and goals with more than a few select humans—because if I do, I run a very big risk of giving my identity away. And I’ve done that before. It sucks!

Of course, you still want to be the best version of yourself. You still have goals and want to achieve great things that will make you proud.

You’re not going to sit on your ass doing nothing, are you? And we know a lack of patience will only prolong the journey, so how can you cultivate patience to ensure your journey is safe and enjoyable?

CULTIVATING PATIENCE

  1. BE REALISTIC

Turn your antenna up. What bullshit are you currently buying and how is this negatively impacting you? What is it you want to do or achieve? Professional or personal. Doesn’t matter. Now, flush out the crap and get realistic with your goals as well as the time it will take to achieve them.

NY Times bestselling author, Neill Strauss, is always happy to take a small advance on his book deals, because he knows that when his book sells, he is far more likely to exceed his publisher’s expectations and get better future deals.

It’s always better to overshoot the landing than it is to fall short.

  1. MAKE A PLAN

Now that you’re a little more realistic with your ambitions and expectations, devise a solid plan which you can execute on every day to help it all come to fruition. Remember, this is about cultivating patience. A good plan isn’t drawn up in a day. The more organised you are, the more efficient you’ll be—so give this the time it deserves.

  1. REFLECT

Self-reflection is a catalyst for a lot of good in your life. The more you reflect on all you’ve done and achieved, the more you’ll see how far you’ve come, and the more you’ll appreciate the journey and realise just how much work is required in the first place.

You might need to double down, you might need to pivot, and you might need to throw in the towel completely. Unless you’re reflecting, you’ll never know.

Reflect often on all you’ve achieved to keep your focus and ensure you celebrate your wins along the way.

  1. PRACTICE GRATITUDE

Taking a couple of minutes each day to practice gratitude has been proven to have a positive impact on outlook. As a result, you’ll be more content and happy with what’s going on in your life today, and therefore, you won’t be sat there pissed off waiting for tomorrow.

  1. HAVE FUN

It’s crazy how easy it is to forget that life is supposed to be fun the second any shit storm hits. What is it you love to do? Get out there and do it.

Don’t trade your happiness. Live your life and do something you love every day. Everything will be better as a result.

  1. GET HELP

You’re still on a journey. And life is tough, right? We come up against all sorts of shit. A lot of impatience shows up because we try to prove we can do it alone. I’m an idiot. My life would have been way better if I just got help with my problems. Without a doubt, my biggest mistake is trying to figure complicated stuff out on my own.

Get a mentor, talk to your friends, or pay someone that can help you overcome an obstacle.

There’s patience, and there’s patience. And there’s no point to suffer needlessly, so if there is something you need help with—go get it.

  1. BE PRO-ACTIVE

Most people are reactive. In a weird way, this can be a form of being too patient. Don’t assume everything will fall into place. Do something every day to help push it along (a day off can also help with this).

Those who are pro-active are out there doing what needs to be done to live their best life, and they’re rewarded for doing so.

  1. TAKE A BREAK

Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away. It might be for an hour, a few days or for good. Don’t ever under-estimate the speed you stand to gain from taking your mind away from that which you’re trying to do.

That’s all I got. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Tony Robbins;

“Most people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in a lifetime”

 


Also published on Medium.

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