“A truly happy person is someone who can enjoy the scenery on a detour!”~ author unknown
When I saw this quote it made me smile. It made me feel that maybe there is a benefit to all the patience I have been forced to practice this past year. Patience takes practice, just like everything else. Am I happier for it? Will I be happier going forward?
The worldwide pandemic is testing us in many ways, but first and foremost it’s testing our mental strength and endurance. This period in history is forcing us to slow down and it’s testing our ability to be patient, something I think we have lost as a society over the past 20 or 30 years.
Patience Takes Practice
I consider myself a patient person, but to be honest, I feel like I was strong-armed into actively practicing patience these last 14 months. Waiting for weeks to see my father after my mother passed away. Waiting to hug my daughter or son until after they’ve quarantined for 14 days. Waiting to hug friends who have also lost someone dear to them… I am still waiting for that. Waiting to socialize freely, to go to restaurants, or to celebrate life cycle events with family and friends. Waiting to travel, to walk with a friend until after yet another lockdown ends. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
My daily practice of yoga and my occasional mindfulness meditation has been a great help in keeping my mind strong and my patience in check. It has also encouraged me to be appreciative of the little things in life along the way… while I’ve been waiting. So when I saw the quote, which refers to enjoying the scenery along the way of life’s detours, it made me stop and think. And I guess this new mindset does make me happier!
The Wait Is Over, But Is Our Patience Gone Too?
I grew up in an era where waiting for a friend to return a call after a day or two was normal. It didn’t require patience, it was just the way things were. Oh and that is when we often played the game of telephone tag! Slowly, thanks to innovation and technology, we have been conditioned not to wait for things any longer. I had to wait in a line of only three people for 25 minutes at the bank this morning. That tested my patience.
I believe our instant gratification society actually creates impatience and impatience does cause frustration, irritability, and anger in some cases. In a word ~ STRESS. Instead of generating gratitude for satisfying our desires so quickly, we become even more impatient if things don’t happen immediately. Does our constant impatience make us less happy? Perhaps.
Enjoy the Scenery While We Wait
Since this global pandemic became a part of our lives, I am not as anxious as I was in waiting to do things. Waiting has become the norm again. I appreciate it much more when I can have a coffee outside with a friend… catching up in person vs. on a screen. I know that seeing my father will be extra sweet after living through these lockdowns, but I have to say that I am grateful for Zoom in that case. And when the sun goes behind the clouds for days on end this spring, I know that the rain is needed and buds and blossoms will ensue. I feel so much more grateful for the sun when it does come out.
We are in the home stretch now. Vaccinations are happening and as evidenced in countries where populations are vaccinated, things are starting to return to normal. It will be a ‘NEW’ normal of course, but thankfully it will be unlike the isolation we have been forced to endure this past year and a bit.
When things return to normal, I hope that I maintain my ability to be more patient. It is not just patience that we must practice but is it what we do while we are waiting that can help us to be happier too. While you wait, your dreams can flourish, you can explore new skills, practice talents, nurture relationships, simply appreciate the silence, and the list goes on. While we are being patient, try distracting yourself with the scenery along the way. And will this lead us to be happier people?
Hang in there. Despite my well-practiced mindfulness and patience, I feel like this last home stretch is putting my newly generated patience to the test. Like a long car ride, it is in the last hour that we are forced to practice patience the most. When what we want, the end goal or desire, is just within reach, it is hard to keep calm and carry on. Our excitement for acquiring or reaching what we want pushes patience aside. That is where our mindfulness has to kick in.
I hope we have learned to be less stressed by the waiting and anticipation. I hope we are more grateful when we actually get what it is we are waiting for. In the end, I think this will make us all happier people.