Entries Tagged 'Patience' ↓
March 23rd, 2008 — Lifelong Learning, Patience, Stress Hardiness
Becoming mature means learning to accept what you cannot change, facing unresolved sorrows and learning to love life as it really happens, not as you would have it happen.
I realize that humor isn’t for everyone. It’s only for people who want to have fun, enjoy life, and feel alive.
—Anne Wilson Schaef
There’s an old Sufi story about accepting imperfection:
Mulla Nasrudin decided to start a flower garden. He prepared the soil and planted the seeds of many beautiful flowers. But when they came up, his garden was filled not just with his chosen flowers but also overrun by dandelions.
He sought out advice from gardeners all over and tried every method known to get rid of them but to no avail. Finally he walked all the way to the capital to speak to the royal gardener at the sheik’s palace.
The wise old man had counseled many gardeners before and suggested a variety of remedies to expel the dandelions but Mulla had tried them all. They sat together in silence for some time and finally the gardener looked at Nasrudin and said, “Well, then I suggest you learn to love them.”
An Experiment in Loving the Weeds
Learning to love the weeds in our lives…that’s an idea worth playing with. The big challenge for me this week was working on income tax. So to get in the proper frame of mind I thought of my new role model and asked, “What would a dolphin do? How would he handle it?” Another way of asking this question is “How can I get this done and enjoy the process?” Once I looked at it this way, the answer was easy. I love puzzles such as such as Word Jumble and Sudoku, and parts of doing income tax isn’t that much different. It’s just figuring out what part of the tax code applies to us and where to put the information we’ve accumulated during the year.
That’s mostly a word-logic puzzle, so I did some warm-ups with Word Jumble…it seemed to activate the same part of the brain that I would be using. And it got me into the ideal problem-solving state: a curious mind in a relaxed body. I also cleared off the dining room table so I could spread out my papers and not have to fumble through them to find what I needed. And I allowed myself plenty of time so I could take a break as often as I wanted.
On the whole the experiment worked well. I enjoyed it, and I didn’t get frustrated when I had to think for a while to figure something out. That meant the process probably went a lot faster than if I had been pushing to get it done.
The only downside was I got hooked by Word Jumble and spent more time playing with that than I had intended. But that’s a topic for next week’s blog! I think it went so well not just because I approached it with the right attitude, but also because I’ve been practicing that mindfulness…a curious but patient mind in a relaxed body… a lot this past year. All those hours working on my two blogs (this one and the one at Cheerful Monk) have really paid off.
So, can we enjoy the weeds in our lives? As we can see from the pictures above, dandelions can be beautiful if you stop to look at them rather than being upset because they’re “ruining” your garden. And I dare say, there are probably a lot more things in my life that I can enjoy if I just stop fighting them. So I suppose the stress-hardy thing to do is take Nasrudin’s attitude—by all means try to get what you want. But if that doesn’t work, do your best to love life just the way it is.
This site is presented as food for thought. Please share your views in the comments section.
Thanks to bikehikebabe for commenting on last week’s post.
March 16th, 2008 — Patience, Stress Hardiness
Every survival kit should include a sense of humor.
Humor is by far the most significant activity of the human brain.
—Edward de Bono
I came across a delightful story about a dolphin this past week. Two pygmy whales, a mother and calf, were disoriented and stranded off a beach down in New Zealand. Rescuers had been trying to help, but the whales were getting more distraught, and the situation looked hopeless. Then Moko, a local dolphin, came in. She pushed herself between the humans and the whales and led the whales out to sea. In just a few minutes she accomplished what the humans had failed to do in about an hour and a half.
The story reminded me of a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, where Hobbes the tiger says, “It makes you wonder why humans think they’re such big, screaming deals.” It also reminds me of an article, written by a dolphin trainer, I read years ago. He said he was just starting to train a new dolphin and brought over some fish to feed it. The dolphin was a quarter way around the pool and indicated the trainer should come over there to do the feeding. The trainer insisted…no, the dolphin had to come to him. So the dolphin good-naturedly did, and the trainer felt pleased and in control. Except that about a week later he suddenly noticed he was feeding the dolphin exactly where the dolphin had been that first day. There was no contest of wills. The dolphin had just patiently and subtly gotten his way. Even though the trainer didn’t use Hobbes’ exact words, you could tell from the article that he agreed with the sentiment. We humans do have an exalted opinion of ourselves. It would be more appropriate to lighten up and have a bit of humility.
My New Role Model
In What I Learned From Being Downsized I said I had learned:
- Be optimistic and have a sense of humor
- Always keep learning and growing
- Be patient and bide your time when it’s appropriate
- Generate new ideas and opportunities for yourself
- Enjoy the adventure of life and have friends to share it with
It seems to me that dolphins come by that naturally. So in the future if I start to get thrown by difficult people and situations, I’ll just ask myself, “How would a dolphin handle this?” Hopefully that will quickly get me back on track. Let’s face it, life is a lot easier and more fun if we have a bit of humility and a good sense of humor.
Please share your experience in the comments section.
Thanks to Robert and Jackie for commenting on last week’s post.
January 13th, 2008 — Patience, Stress Hardiness
There are few things more wonderful than knowing where you want to go and being on the path to getting there.
As I said in 2007–A Year of Adventure, I want to continue becoming more stress-hardy. I had a good chance to practice this past week, trying to resolve an insurance issue. It has been going on for seven months now, and when I last tackled the issue weeks ago I had a partial success. By last Thursday I had given them enough time to do something, and it was time to give another nudge. That, of course, meant time-consuming interactions with automated voices asking for information, being put on hold for long periods, and dealing with agents who weren’t trained to deal with the problem in question. Patience with bureaucracy has never been my strong suit, so it was a great chance to devise a better method of dealing with it. And that was the key…focusing on my own performance rather than letting my mood depend on how this interaction turned out.
Mainly I wanted to avoid getting frustrated at the time I was wasting on the problem. Putting it more positively, I wanted to use that time wisely and to enjoy the process as much as possible. Once I framed the situation that way, finding a good strategy was easy.
So I got out the necessary paperwork, including my notes from previous transactions, and I used my speaker phone so I didn’t have to hold the receiver while waiting on hold. I also made myself a cup of tea and opened Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’m reading about her stay in Italy, where she spends her time in self-indulgence. That’s not usually my thing, but it was a quick way to stop thinking in terms of efficiency. And for me giving up the idea of speed and efficiency is the only way to deal with bureaucracy.
Very simply, I turned the waiting time into a mini vacation, and I used the interaction with the agent as an exercise in being friendly but firm…she wasn’t able to handle it on her level so I patiently persuaded her to talk to someone higher up. That meant a lot more time on hold, but I may have gotten this particular problem resolved. I should know in a few more weeks.
Whether or not that happens this time around, it was a successful learning experience. The next time I need to negotiate a corporate or government maze, it will hopefully be easier for me to remember that it’s my decision whether or not I waste my time feeling frustrated. Next time I might spend the waiting time doing something productive instead of taking a mini vacation, but it’s important that I enjoy whatever I choose to do. Because that’s the most effective way I have of motivating myself…to enjoy the process.
What about you? Do you ever waste your time feeling frustrated? How do you motivate yourself to do things? Do you ever have conflicts between what you want to do and what you “should” do? Please share your thoughts and experience in the comments section.
Picture by Aggarwal_Gopal via Flickr. Creative Commons license.
Robert Hruzek at Middle Zone Musings
is having a series on What I Learned From 2007
. For my contribution for Transforming Stress click here
Thanks to bikehikebabe for commenting on the last week’s post.
January 6th, 2008 — Lifelong Learning, Patience, Stress Hardiness
They are able to tolerate ambiguity, uncertainty, and imperfection. They have a long-range perspective, so they give themselves and others room to grow. They can afford to be resilient, flexible, and creative because they are centered in their values.
—#4, Traits of Stress-Hardy, Resilient People
In my last post I said I want to continue integrating the Traits of Stress-Hardy, Resilient People into my life. One way I’m going about it is finding visual metaphors for what I’m aiming for. I also use affirmations and mantras, but my mind is primarily visual, so that’s the most powerful way of influencing it. For instance, years ago when I was hooked on food, one of the images I used was of slender silver chains pulling me towards the refrigerator. It was liberating to mentally take a pair of scissors and cut those chains.
The pictures of the goose in Having the Sense That God Gave the Goose is a great metaphor for Trait #6:
They take responsibility for their mental programming, their emotions, and their actions. If they have ineffective ways of thinking and behaving, they evaluate them and make appropriate changes.
And the picture above will remind me to take the long-range perspective mentioned in Trait #4. Notice the expression on the boy’s face. He has a long way to go before he can hope to be as big and as skilled as the man teaching him. But he’s not discouraged. He’s focusing on the present moment, doing the technique as best he can. That’s me….I’m just a little kid following my path and enjoying the process. When I temporarily forget to do that, I’ll think of this picture and get back on track.
What about you? What are you aiming for? What techniques are you using? Do you know of any pictures that would make good metaphors for becoming more stress-hardy? Please share your thoughts and experience in the comments section.
Picture by MASA via Flickr. Used with permission from owner, who reserves all rights.
Thanks to Galba, Mary and bikehikebabe for commenting on the last week’s post.
July 29th, 2007 — Lifelong Learning, Patience
Colleen Wainright, the communicatrix, is presently participating in a 30-day hypnotherapy experiment and describing it on her blog. Her therapist, Greg Beckett, is apparently using psychosynthesis to find her subpersonalities and help her to get them to work together as a team. But on Day 19 they created a subpersonality that isn’t interested in cooperating. It’s called “the Resistor” and is interested only in resisting everything she tries to do. So she’s doomed to fight it forever if she wants to accomplish anything.
Being a great believer in harmony and the development of personality myself, I find that fascinating. I used the term “created” instead of “uncovered” above because just before the session she had read a book called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. As Colleen writes, “the chief slayer of creative output, according to Pressfield, is Resistance. It takes many shapes (procrastination is a favorite) but moves inexorably towards its chief goal,” frittering away your precious time. Colleen had come to the session “full of excitement over this great new guide and its mythic depiction of a wiggly idea. But Greg decided to do old Steven one better: he called resistance ‘The Resistor’ and, after putting me under, got it to talk a bit.”
So now Colleen believes the Resistor is an essential part of herself. Who knows, it may very well work for her. It’s just not my style of operating. When I find myself dragging my feet about doing something that part of me wants to do, I honor that resistance and try to understand it. It may be right or it may be wrong, but it’s trying to protect me. Maybe I’ve been working too hard and need a break. Maybe it’s afraid I’ll commit myself to something I will regret. Maybe I’m just facing some tasks that aren’t much fun. At any rate, it’s worth taking a bit of time to see what the underlying issue is and resolve it in the easiest way.
Am I creating my own version of Resistance? Of course, and that doesn’t make it any less useful. I’m after something different than Colleen. She seems to be after “achievements of magnificent fulfillment.” I just want to live my life deeply and share it with others. For me that means not fighting life and myself but enjoying the process. So when I have something to do and find myself dragging my feet, I ask myself “How can I get this done and enjoy the process?” Usually, in the fullness of time, it starts to work.
Photo: Memorial to the French resistance by Rhian vk. Creative Commons license.
June 17th, 2007 — Patience
I’ve spent most of the past few days editing videos for the local public access TV station. More specifically, I’ve been turning video clips I’ve taken of Ruth Williamson into sing-a-longs for the TV audience.
Ruth is a volunteer who does musical programs each week at the local Senior Center. She has been doing this for many years now, and I admire her dedication to making this corner of the world a warmer, friendlier place.
I’m a volunteer, too, and for the past three years have been making weekly musical slide shows of the animals at the local shelter, again for the local public access station. I added Ruth’s sing-a-longs about a year ago.
Video editing is time-consuming and can be an exercise in patience, but it’s been a true labor of love. Bless you, Ruth, for all that you do.
June 11th, 2007 — Patience
Azalea blooms by catmadogma
I’ve been spending a long time trying to rewrite the home page of this website. I think of it as nurturing flowers…sometimes it takes a lot of TLC before they start blooming. So I’m not only growing a website, I’m also nurturing my patience. It is starting to thrive.
June 4th, 2007 — Patience
I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed the past week or so. I’ve been trying to modify this blog…to make it coordinate better with the rest of my website. And after spending a day or so learning just enough about WordPress and PHP to do it, my friend Cyn has just told me she can’t see the header.
Obviously I haven’t learned “just” enough.
So this little squirrel is my role model at the moment. He’s got a nice warm coat and isn’t letting the snow get him down. He’s also in no hurry. So I’ll be patient, too. And my warm coat is the confidence that I’ll get it all sorted out in the fullness of time. There’s no great rush…just enjoy the process as well as the results.
Photo from FunnyZoo.