The average day provides a myriad of blessings to be grateful for, along with multiple niggles and challenges – all of which are opportunities to complain, if that is our focus. People who constantly complain are hard to be around and don’t attract warmth from others. The sad thing is that their focus on the negative means that they also bring themselves down.
On the other hand, if we cultivate an attitude of patient forbearance, deciding to remain cheerful despite the obstacles, the difficulties lose significance. It’s like screening out the bad stuff and focussing on what feels good. At the end of a challenging day, we remember the highlights, because that is where our attention has been.
Being aware of uncomfortable feelings but choosing to ignore them is a sign of mental strength and is a highly valued practice in many traditions. It helps us to see the bigger picture, thus developing understanding and forgiveness rather than blame, when other people’s needs clash with our own. (This does not mean passively accepting situations that need changing; rather, it helps us to respond in a problem-solving way rather than with an emotional outburst.)
Patience improves our experience in two ways. First, focussing on the positive makes for a brighter day, because our experience is determined by where we place our attention. Second, when we understand that patience is indeed a virtue, we gain a sense of accomplishment when we attain it, rather than feeling that we are giving something up.
Stephanie Hills ©