Sunday, February 23, 2014

The virtue of Patience

The dictionary defines "patience" as "the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset."

Being patient is not the same as being "laid back." Patient people can come across as lazy, disinterested, slow to act, or even of low intelligence. This distinction is important so you do not misread the other person or develop wrong traits in yourself under the impression that you are cultivating patience.

"Patience" requires you to avoid actions triggered by anger, irritation, or impatience. But action is key, sometimes the action must be swift and almost instinctive.

Let us review a couple of examples.

  • You sit on your motorcycle at a busy intersection, waiting for an opportunity to join the traffic and continue to your destination. You wait, and you wait. If you get impatient and force your way into the traffic, you could trigger a collision. In this situation, you must patiently wait for a safe opening for you to proceed.
  • Your motorcycle stalls in the middle of the road and you resolve to be patient. You calmly troubleshoot your motorcycle and are mowed down by a motorist who did not see you in time. This is not a good example of showing patience, this is an example of a poorly chosen action. Quickly move your motorcycle to the side of the road and proceed to patiently troubleshoot.
  • You call your spouse from a scenic spot on the highway and tell him or her about how beautiful the scenery is and how you wish he or she was there with you. You are then subjected to a tirade of how irresponsible you are for not finishing your chores prior to going on your ride. If you are patient, you will calmly interrupt your spouse, tell him or her you will hear the rest when you get home, hang up the phone, and continue to enjoy the excursion. Avoid replaying that conversation in your head during your drive home.
When I purchased the motorcycle, the accessories had to be ordered and installed. This took a few days. A snowstorm delayed all deliveries, adding to the aggravation. It was a moment to practice patience. I took care to inform the dealer that just because I am patient, not being a "squeaky wheel," he is not to put me to the back of the line. I expected installation and delivery the day he gets the accessories. Sometimes, it is necessary to inject urgency in your request, find ways for doing so without becoming impatient.

An extreme example: If you are a firefighter, and the victims trapped in the fire are not cooperating, or moving fast enough, you have to keep the urgency high, and showing impatience may make the victims tense or they may panic, making the situation worse.

If you are patient on the "inside" it will show externally, even if you are raising your voice. If you are impatient on the "inside," no matter how polite or restrained you are externally, people can tell that you are an impatient person. This may go against you if you are looking for agreement, cooperation, or support for your ideas.

You know from your experience how valuable patience can be. Practicing patience is easier once you understand the nuances. It also helps if you are not tired, physically in good shape, and generally a positive minded person.

The question in my mind is, should we ride motorcycles after developing patience, do should we ride motorcycles in order to develop patience?