“When life’s circumstances test your limits, exercise patience for the greater good of your health and well-being.”
We’ve all experienced it, those frustrating moments in life when you become keenly aware that your patience is being tested to its breaking point. Everyone has limits and recently mine were tested in a typical fashion.
During the business week, my lunch hour is thirty lousy minutes. It’s barely enough time to run an errand or grab a bite to eat and swallow. I’m not one to pack a lunch and eat in the cafeteria. During my allotted break time, I require fresh air, movement, a moment to recharge, focus outside of work, and experience a sense of peace.
On this one occasion, I made a quick trip to the Dollar Store to grab a new bag of Jolly Ranchers (my preferred work candy snack), replacement kid cups with built in straws, and some hair ties for my girls. Three items. Since I know the store layout fairly well, I should be in and out at warp speed.
But it was not meant to be.
Instead, my patience would be tested.
In hindsight, I should’ve seen the warning signs.
3 Warning Signs:
- Packed Parking Lot – In late afternoon the shopping center parking lot should be empty. Instead it was full. I thought to my myself “Wow, no spots! Surely these people can’t all be in the Dollar Store. I guess Chipotle and Duck Donuts are growing in popularity.”.
- Long Check-Out Line – When I entered the store I noticed long checkout lines. No worries, by the time I grab my target items and browse it should clear right up.
- Lack of Registers – There were only two registers open.
When my time to check-out came, the lines hadn’t cleared and no further registers had opened. I couldn’t help but notice an employee over yonder futzing with the balloon display and another seemingly lurking, contributing ‘a whole lot of nothing’ to customer service. I realize not every staff member is trained to be on registers, but when you are a retail customer pressed for time on a long check-out line you convince yourself that anyone on store payroll is fair game to complete the sale and better dang well step up!
Before I knew it, I had invested a good ten minutes in line, I wasn’t about to drop my stuff and step out. I wanted those Jolly Ranchers.
Surveying the customers ahead of me, I noticed a couple with an overflowing cart. Dang. I have three items and a ticking lunch-time clock.
I was also growing tired of listening to the teenage girls ahead discuss their fresh manicures.
And if that woman behind me continues her loud cell phone conversation, I’m going to turn around and hang it up for her.
I witnessed lack of hustle on the part of the cashier who should be breaking a sweat by now.
Suddenly a whiff of passed gas blows my way, the barf cherry on top of this nightmare experience.
Finally I’m ‘next’ in line. Soon it would be my turn. Soon. But first, I had to wait for the man in front of me to gather and count change from his two coin purses. This man was struggling. I knew I should have patience, but it was nowhere to be found. Instead my blood was boiling and frustration steadily rising.
Then it happened.
The young man turned to me and said “Your toe nails look really pretty. I love pink!”. Sure, it was an odd compliment from a unique fellow but it melted my impatient heart.
“What the heck was I getting so worked up about anyway?”.
Curb your impatience.
Reasons to Improve:
- Physical Effects – Bouts of impatience lead to increased blood pressure, adrenaline, rapid heart rate, headache, and plain exhaustion.
- Emotional Effects – Impatience causes feelings of anger, stress, anxiety, and possible violence. Have you ever seen those videos of Walmart shoppers on Black Friday (immediately following Thanksgiving dinner) trampling one another for bargains? Brawling like savages in front of their children? Clearly impatience (among other things) leads to poor decision making.
Ways to Improve Patience:
- Pretend There’s A Reason – As stood in that check-out line I kept telling myself “I may not understand this now, but I must be stuck in this line for a reason. Maybe if I wasn’t in this line, I’d be getting into a car accident and that would be terrible. I should be thankful I’m here, breathing, and not something worse!”.
- Be Present – Use the moment as an opportunity to be ‘present’ with yourself and your surroundings. I mean really, what’s the rush to return work? So what if you’re five minutes late. Take a deep breath, look around, smell the roses. Life is happening all around right now. Appreciate it.
- Slow Down – Everyone’s always got themselves in a big hurry nowadays. Race to work, hurry to school, sprint to baseball, rush to dance. Slow yourself down. Life is not supposed to be a rat-race. Take it easy!
- Laugh It Off – Turn that frown upside down and find a way to laugh it off. Laughter is the best medicine and cure for all kinds of stressors.
- Promote Kindness – Act in kindness to others instead of getting frustrated. If the man in front of you counting change at a sloth’s pace enrages you, kindly pull out a dollar at lightning speed and move this man along! Pay it forward for the greater good.
Next time you’re stuck in retail hell, grid-lock traffic, airport lines, listening to hold music, on the restaurant wait list, or surrounded by a toddler temper tantrum… acknowledge your patience (or lack thereof). Strive for improvement. Grow stronger. Develop your skills. Better contribute to your overall health and well-being. Patience is a virtue and advantage to you!
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