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Patience: Future vs Present Mindfulness

By Megan Harshbarger

Stone Tower

Impatience seems to be part of a growing dissatisfaction that we all contend with in our lives. In our technology-driven world with everything marketed to us as “instant” and “convenient”, we become agitated over the response time of even our fastest computers. Reacting to situations in a hasty ‘let’s get this over with’ approach rarely results in the satisfaction we really want and forcing patience ultimately results in feelings of irritation and more impatience.

My impatience is something that I constantly contend with. I am the person who wants to experience everything right now, including marriage, family, career, and children. I am usually preoccupied with thoughts of what I could, should, and want to be doing in the future. One thing I have continually tried to force is my career. Constantly striving for better and better, I would tell myself, “If I could just move up to that position, I would be content”. The position would be mine, and then it was another round of “If...then I would be content.”

Those moments reveal to me that my impatience is winning over my experience of the present moment. Although those thoughts motivate me and fuel my drive, in the end they make me feel worse. Constantly focusing on my future happiness and what I want my life to be denies me the understanding of what it means to be calm and attentive to life unfolding as it is.

This year has brought about a change in attitude in how I approach my “need to succeed.” There has slowly emerged an understanding of my need to develop a more relaxed state of being where I am fully accepting and content with the present. I am learning that quick fix solutions, or getting what I want because I want it now simply do not allow for reflection. I began practicing meditation and starting yoga classes, and I credit these practices with helping me reach a place of greater relaxed awareness and mindfulness. Giving up the sense of urgency and frustration towards the tasks of life has proved very rewarding. My drive is still present, but I am enjoying the journey of developing my skills and learning all that I can today.

The pace of modern life can push us all over the place. There are deadlines to meet, errands to run, money to be made, and objects to acquire. It is easy to get lost amongst it all, which commonly develops confusion and frustration about our responses toward life in general. It is in these very moments that I have learned that I must pull back and wait awhile. Patience nothing more than allowing everything to unfold which makes space for wise decision-making. Drawing on my inner wisdom to arrive at the best decisions can only take place when I become relaxed and reflective.

As life continues to unfold, sometimes making the decision to not make a decision can actually work out fine. I wonder if I necessarily need to interfere with the journey at all.

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