During a class on stress management provided by cardio rehab, the speaker noted that we set expectations which then leads to impatience and, finally, intolerance. It is a pattern that seems so familiar yet one I hadn’t thought about. The offered example was that people of the 1950’s expected healing when an illness struck whereas we today expect a cure. There is a vast difference between the two. People of the fifties just expected to get better; today, we expect to be cured and better off than we were before the illness.
Edward Harper, LCSW, with Senior Services for a local hospital, went on to explain that people born in the 1930’s and 1940’s learned patience as a part of growing up but today’s kids won’t learn the same thing since everything is readily available in seconds. Instead of writing a letter as our generation once would with the reply coming in weeks, now, young people text and expect to get a reply seconds later. A good analogy is the common potato. My parents, children of the 1920’s and 1930’s, would grow their potatoes or get them at a local store expecting to wash, peel, dice or otherwise prepare those potatoes for the meal. Their expectations were that within a half hour or longer the potatoes would be ready to eat.
Today, we buy the boxed or frozen potatoes which will be ready per the package’s promise in ten minutes. If the ten minutes pass and those potatoes aren’t ready, our expectations aren’t met and impatience ensues. If it takes another ten minutes, we become intolerant of the delay promising never to buy them again because of the extra time it takes. In the big picture, this delay is minimal and total time is much less than dealing with a raw potato. The difference is our expectations and our level of intolerance for the delay.
This attitude leads us today to situations like road rage as well as other rages that brings about harm to the family either directly or indirectly. Our expectations need to be at a level that is not only realistic but also attainable. undesirable expectations lead to anxiety and unhealthy attitudes when a little patience would get us a lot further. In other posts, I have written that life is not about the destination but rather the journey. The quality of our journey is determined by our self-imposed expectations.
If we practice patience and are attentive to the now, life can be a more pleasant journey. It will never be perfect, but it can be good, it can be pleasant, it can be wonderful, it can be sad or scary. We need to experience all that life offers and allow ourselves the time to experience everything as it comes our way. Brian Adams, an author, wrote, “Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.”
It is our individual decision as to how we lead our life. Jokingly, during tough times, I have said that I just wanted to handle the situation with grace and beauty. To me that meant giving the moment my attention and patiently working through the situation to reach a positive resolution. Patience is a virtue worth developing.