Having patience is not my strength, but it’s not exactly a weakness either. I lack patience when I’m learning new things and I’m extremely impatient when I’m waiting for anyone who is even a few minutes late. Impatience feels awful. It’s frustrating when our intentions are thwarted, but it doesn’t work to blame others or get snarky and mean-spirited. Try curiosity instead. Impatience fades into the background when we’re curious about solving the problem that’s the source of our irritation – and it’s a way to entertain ourselves while we wait.
Many years ago I took a class in jewelry making. I’d never soldered metal before. It takes patience. If you apply too much fire too quickly, the metal melts. If you’re hesitant with the heat, the solder never flows to seal a joint. It takes practice and problem solving to develop the timing and technique.
Patience, the ability to keep calm in the face of disappointment, distress or suffering, is worth cultivating, and so is problem solving which seems to be my default approach to impatience. My thoughts immediately go to, “How do I resolve this bottleneck? What innovation could work here?” There’s always a game in my head about finding shortcuts and deterring disappointment.
I’m impatient waiting for anything. In a busy Starbucks I notice the way the line snakes and my mind envisions more efficient solutions. When I’m recalculating a column of numbers that don’t add up, I’m already thinking about how I can prevent “a redo” next time. And when I’m threading a needle I devote undivided attention and determination to achieve success the first time. I get exasperated when cream doesn’t whip fast enough, and I remember – often too late – that chilling the bowl and beaters speeds up the process. I definitely know the “watched pot doesn’t boil” experience first hand, and even though I’m an adult, a plaintiff, “Are we there yet?” echoes in my head when travel seems unreasonably long.
I’m rarely impatient because of boredom. If I’m waiting to get through security at an airport, I entertain myself by imagining the colors I’d use to redecorate the drab environment, or I mentally redesign the airport logo so it’s more expressive. I’m not the only one who does this. A friend admits to entertaining herself at the beach by mentally dressing scantily clad people in more flattering clothing.
There are so many things that can’t be rushed. If I’m not creative, my fingers drum when the cell phone is charging and my jaw clenches when videos buffer. Any ideas?
Impatience is beyond our control, but what if we see disappointment as a surprise – an opportunity to entertain ourselves – a chance to use creativity to transform waiting into a pleasurable break?
Ready for your next serving of impatience?
You know it's going to happen!