As we sat down to our meal, Dharma asked me why I seemed a bit fidgety. I have to admit that I was very excited. I explained to him that I have plans to see my friends this weekend and I was anxious to have the work week end. As soon as I said it, I could see the wheels turning in Dharma's head. After a minute or so, he spoke. "Irwin, my boy, the frog who can master patience, masters everything. patience is a virtue that everyone, of all species, can use more of. In the hurry-up world we live in, we are always waiting for the next thing to occur while totally ignoring what's going on in the present. We miss life when we do this." I kind of agreed with him and asked him if he had any suggestions for how to improve one's patience. And, of course, he did. In a nutshell, here are Dharma Frog's top four ways to help all of us become more patient creatures.
1. Make yourself wait. This is a tough one for most of us. In today's hectic society we want what we want and we want it NOW! But recent studies have shown that waiting for things actually makes us happier in the long run. The trick is learning to wait is to start something with something small, perhaps like buying a piece of chocolate and then waiting a few minutes before eating it. Once you've mastered this, move on to something a little bigger. Work your way up gradually. Dharma suggested making a little game out of it...see how long you can go without caving into your desires. It might sound silly, but it works. Challenge yourself!
2. Stop doing things that aren't important. I think it's safe to say that we all have things in our lives that we do that aren't really important. One way to alleviate some of the stress in our daily lives is to simply stop doing these things. Take a look at your weekly schedule from the time you wake up until you go to bed at night. Then find one or two tasks that you can eliminate; things that just aren't super important to you. Dharma advises, "It's time to learn to say no to things that cause stress and make us impatient."
3. Pay attention (be mindful) to the things that cause you to be impatient. Humans, and frogs too live interrupted lives when we multitask; jumping from task to task and from thought to thought. What happens, then, is that we become frustrated and feel as if we're not making any progress with anything. Dharma suggests becoming more mindful of our thoughts and then write down those things that make us feel impatient. This will help you slow down and focus on one task at a time and remove those things that stress you out.
4. Relax and take deep breaths. This one can seem too simple on the surface. But stopping to take a few deep breaths when we're stressed and feeling impatient, helps to slow down the mind and calm the body. This really works! If you are especially "keyed up" and you find that deep breathing isn't enough to calm you and clear your head, then try going for a short walk. Walking outdoors not only helps alleviate some nervous energy but breathing in fresh air can help restore your sense of balance. The point of all of this to find some time each day to decompress. Living in a perpetually stressed and hectic world isn't good for your health nor is it good for your psyche.
"Tadpole, we all need to take time to slow down and practice patience. In doing so, we can learn to leave at least some of stressors and worries behind. If that leads us to feel happier, calmer, and to live more in the moment...then isn't it worth a try?" Dharma was right, as always. I am so eager to see my friends this weekend that I am missing what's going on here and now. I am missing opportunities to enjoy my life, moment by moment. Our lives are short enough as it is without us rushing to to make them pass by even more quickly.
After Dharma left this morning, I decided to do a few household chores that I've been putting off. Not only will my pad look cleaner and neater, I also won't be focused quite so much on meeting my friends this Saturday. I don't know how he does it, but Dharma always has the perfect lesson for me. And today was no exception! I hope you'll join me back here again tomorrow. Until then, I wish you