Last week when Mike and I were at the beach, we bought our lunches ahead of time and packed them in our cooler. As I got our my sushi (weird beach meal, I know), and had just finished pouring out the soy sauce and opening the wasabi, I looked down to pick my first piece and with that, a little girl grabbed her shovel and proceeded to throw the sand back right towards me and all over my lunch. UGH. I couldn’t be mad though as she was probably 5 or 6. How does she know better? But then her mother looked at me and didn’t think an apology was necessary. Instead she grabbed the girl and said lets go down to the water. Annoyed? I was beyond. About a half an hour later, a VERY large family decided to plant themselves practically on top of us. So much so that Mike literally couldn’t put his chair back all the way without hitting our newfound neighbors. This would’ve been a little acceptable if there had been no spots left on the beach but at this point it was later in the day and so there were plenty of spots available if they had just walked about 50 feet to the left. As this happened, we both looked at each other, giving a “what the hell?” type of face. I quickly moved onto our towel to try to get as far away from them as possible. They were talking so loudly and, in my mind, I kept thinking that they were “ruining” our relaxation time. I was thinking of myself, my happiness, my day off, I was acting in my head as if it was my beach. With that, I took out a book I’m reading and as luck would have it, I was beginning a news chapter called patience. PATIENCE!!! Just when I had about no patience left in me. As I read, it talked about difficult moments and how we react to them. It suggested saying the phrase “Only I can destroy my peace and I choose not to do so” as a way to sink into a place of peace and calm. So I tried it, saying that phrase in my head over and over. And you know what? It helped. It didn’t get rid of all my frustrations but it began to put things in perspective— that although this family was sitting too close to our liking that it really ends up being my choice to let them aggravate me. I can choose to let them affect my time at the beach or I can choose to stay calm and continue to enjoy my day. So I chose to continue to enjoy my day.
There are so many times during any given day that our patience is tested. Driving, for example. For many people, it’s the first thing they do in the morning. I get up, make my smoothie and hop in the car. Only to feel like I’m in a rat race with people driving around, seemingly to me, like maniacs. People cut you off, flip you off (happens to me quite often!) and people piss you off. Other people can really do a number our inner peace but we should try not to let them. I’ve found that reminding myself that I too have cut people off, I too have flipped people off and God knows, I too have pissed people off. So instead of letting anger arise inside of you during these moments, it’s helpful to remind yourself that there’s a human inside that car, someone with a family, someone that’s trying to get to work on time too— I think often when we get so angry at people for little things like cutting us off on the road, we dehumanize them and act like they’re not a person just like us. I do it all the time, whenever someone cuts me off or is driving too slow for my liking, I cuss “at them” in the car and talk to myself about how annoying they are. But if we were out of the car, and I could see them face to face, would I ever tell them what an ass clown they were being? No, probably not. As soon as I was met with the actual human inside the car, I’d probably end up telling them “no big deal.” That’s because, for the most part, when you humanize people and realize they too make mistakes, just like you do, it’s easier to be less upset about whatever wrongdoing they did to you.
There is a legend that tells of a king who challenges his wise men to create a phrase that would always be true no matter what the time, place or conditions. They contemplated over this for many hours and meditated for weeks. Finally, they presented the king with a tablet inscribed with the words, “this too shall pass.” Ever since, these words have humbled the prideful and offered hope to the afflicted. These words can help in such a big or small way. They help in the moments when people cut you off. Yes, I had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting the person. But guess what? I’m not in an accident and I didn’t hit them so that feeling needs to pass. That moment did so now I’m going to let it go — no need to hold on to anger over something that’s over and done with. This phrase can also be used for much bigger things. Like tough times in your life. I’ve said this phrase many times since being diagnosed… this too shall pass. It’s helped me when I’m in the rut of the day. It brings you hope when you need it. It allows you to shift your mindset to believe that better is coming.
Truly having patience is something that comes with much practice and mindfulness but in the end, being patient with others brings a much important sense of peace to yourself. It may not always be easy (or possible) to remind yourself of some of these things in the day to day moments, but it’s certainly worth the effort.
Lots of love & light,