Patience Relativity

Those who know me will tell you I’m a patient guy. Some have even accused me of being patient to a fault (letting people walk all over me). However, it was something I wasn’t born with… just ask my brother, who I used to beat up every day when he annoyed me.

The Bible says the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self control. In other words, if you are a Christian, people will be able to tell because you will exhibit these qualities. (NOT because you bash them over the head with a Bible.) Depending on the person, some or all of these can be a real battle. For me, patience was one I really had to learn. I had to find some sort of zen.

Some of those are not so easy for me… peace is the hardest one for me, as the anxious sort of person that I am. I’d argue that I’m pretty humble, but I’m afraid that self-contempt doesn’t qualify as humility. Not to mention the fact that saying you’re awesomely humble pretty much negates the point.

Even if you aren’t a Christian, these are some good things to aspire to. I don’t see how being kind could hurt you in life, for example. The only special point for Christians is that if you aren’t exhibiting these qualities at least to some extent, you might want to take a closer look at why.

As I forced myself to be patient, it became second nature to me. Now, when I’m standing there while someone does something annoying, I genuinely don’t get annoyed… most of the time. I’m not perfect. 🙂 The point is, it’s not really a daily battle for me anymore.

With patience comes the realization that in this world, it’s a very rare quality. People are very impatient ALL the time. It happens in traffic, at the grocery store… anywhere there are people, there are annoyed people. It sticks out at me like a sore thumb, because I remember how unhappy I was ALL the time before I got my emotions under control (I went to Vulcan and studied with Spock).

When people are impatient with me, I tend to take it personally. I’m not really sure why that is… I’ll have to ask my therapist. If I can tell someone in traffic is freaking out, I try to make room for them. When someone’s freaking out at the store, I’ll let them go in front of me.

The only place I really still lose my cool is when I’m stuck on the highway behind an accident. I’m trying to work on that, but I haven’t conquered it yet. I know there’s nothing I can do about it, so I might as well sit back and relax… but then, emotions aren’t really rational.

My theory of patience relativity is that the more patient you are, the more you are sensitive to other people’s impatience. The inverse is probably also true… I’d venture to say that impatient people are both aware of…. and annoyed by…. people who are patient.

So next time you start to get annoyed with someone or something…. ask yourself “Does this thing I’m annoyed about matter jack freakin squat?” The answer is inevitably an emphatic “NO!”. You too can learn to be patient. It’s a skill, not an emotion.