Decisive Moment #3012(b): Decide to Cultivate Patience


After a week of decisive moments moving the world forwards, sideways, backwards, and nowhere at all, it must be time for a bonus decision, made mindfully in the moment, and with intent. 

That’s right, not all decisive moments are intentional, grasshoppers.  In fact, it’s arguable that hardly any of them are; instead, they simply happen in the course of things, as events overtake and consume us, and life happens, or doesn’t.

Most of us look back on our lives at different points and say to ourselves, So that’s when everything went [insert words of choice here, or choice words – eg, pear-shaped, down the S-bend, right at last, careening towards an extinction level event].

Today, you can look at this moment in your life, now, and decide to cultivate patience.

This moment, when you decide to forbear, persevere, endure, to wait, will make a big difference to your life.  It’s guaranteed.  Imagine, for instance, how much happier you’ll be when you know you control what comes out of your mouth, keyboard, eyes, fine writing implement.  Imagine knowing that no-one can entice you to take the bait, react, and regret shooting off your mouth, or that abusive email, or your earwig of a brother’s toe.

Here are a few little techniques you can use to feel more powerful and in command next time a challenge to your patience arises:

  • Take a deep breath, hold it for a count of three, and then exhale.  Repeat twice more, and at the end of each exhalation, feel the developing calm and groundedness right down to the soles of your feet.  You don’t need to engage with whatever or whoever is trying your patience.
  • Wait 5 seconds before you answer a contentious, provocative, or challenging question.  We all have a tendency to want to speak first and think later.  No, no, grasshoppers, think first – but think of exactly nothing for 5 seconds, then ask, Could you repeat that question/what you just said.  By then, the speaker is likely to have moderated their tone/approach, fearful of what may be about to befall them as they contemplate your eerie silence and gimlet optics.
  • Then, if they have the temerity to actually comply with your request and repeat the same question/make the same comment, tell them this, Let me get back to you on that, even if all you want to do is set them straight right here, right now.  It’s seldom that urgent, and if you think it is that urgent, think again, and then, yes, decide – but make sure it’s you deciding, not your temporary puppetmaster in the form of impatience.
  • Next time you’re checking your inbox or your Twitter account and you see a message you want to respond to right away because you disagree, or you’re furious, or you think you should decide right now, stop.  Close that message and roll back from your desk, or return your Blackberry to your bag/drawer, and move several metres away from it.  Leave the room where the technology resides, go to a place where there are beverage-making facilities – commonly known as the kitchen, or kitchenette if we’re being stingy about it – and make a beverage.  Do this mindfully, and don’t burn yourself.  Sit or lean somewhere and sip, sip, sip that sustaining sucker.
  • When you’re in a meeting and you can’t escape but you really need to because otherwise your head’s going to explode like a poorly sealed pressure cooker (the great Stew-On-The-Ceiling event of ‘64 comes to mind), give a little cough.  Cough a little more, and a little more.  If there’s water on the table, ignore it, stand up, point to your throat, look slightly delusional, and Leave The Room.  Go to the loo, enter the cubicle, and wait.  Return when the stew scenario is no longer a threat.

That’s all for today’s decisive moment, grasshoppers.  Enjoy cultivating patience and remember, it’s only a game if two play (even if it’s the two personalities fighting it out in your head).

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