I know there’s a peaceful state underlying all my impatient thoughts and feelings. Even at moments when I cannot find that peace, I empower myself by remembering that it exists. Trusting the process of life can be challenging, so here are three games I like to play to help me practice patience and enjoy the ride.
“Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind.” – David G. Allen
You’re absolutely not alone when it comes to being impatient, waiting for results, attaching to outcomes, and the like. I really understand. The key thing to remember is that it’s a journey; I’m still on the journey, and I always will be, and so are we all.
Patience is a practice, and it’s not one that anyone grows out of. No matter who you are (or how happy or spiritual or this or that you are), you’re not too much of anything to outgrow the practice of patience.
I also understand that having someone tell you to wait, or to relax, or to learn to be patient can be frustrating. These words aren’t written with the intention of telling you you’re not allowed to feel whatever you’re feeling–by all means, if you’re impatient, feel the impatience. Don’t try to sidestep it; be honest with yourself. It’s a path, not a stop sign.
When we really start to practice patience–treating it like it’s a journey to navigate, not a one-time quick fix–we’ll quickly realize that it doesn’t mean ignoring or controlling our feelings. The feelings and the thoughts don’t just disappear.
Practicing patience means things are going to come up to the surface. Whatever does come up, we can let it be there without force or avoidance. It’s when we get to a place where we can accept ourselves and our experience that space opens up, and patience begins to trickle in.
Patience is the expression of acceptance, presence, trust, and a commitment to the internal experience.
What feels like the end of the world is usually just a bumpy road to a place you’ve never been before–one that might be so much better than what you could’ve imagined. Be willing to practice patience when life gets bumpy, because it’ll make the journey (which is life) so much more meaningful, joyful, and peaceful.
Here are a few games that I find helpful; these simple gestures support my peace of mind when I’m tempted to give life a piece of my mind. They’re part of my spiritual practice, but they can just be part of your patience practice, if that’s all you’re interested in…
3 Spiritual (or Not) Games I Play to Practice Patience
1. Treasure hunt for beauty in this moment.
The first game that helps me can seem boring, or infuse your life experience with a lot more enthusiasm–depending on how you’re willing to look at it.
Please, repeat this to yourself: This moment is my life. This moment is life. I am life. The deepest level of who I am is intrinsically tied to the depth of life in this moment.
Okay, so the truth of who you are understands that this moment is all you have. How wonderful! There’s so much to see right here that you probably missed. Take a look around. See with your eyes, and get in touch with the life that’s underneath the forms of life that you see.
The beauty that’s inherent in all things is typically hidden in plain sight. In other words, we need to shift our perceptions and sharpen our intuitive abilities to acknowledge what’s so often passed by.
When I focus on this truth, the little silly thoughts in my head aren’t as important or pressing, and I look for the beauty in the simplicity of this one moment. In those situations where I know I’m being encouraged (sometimes gently, sometimes loudly) to practice patience, I try to focus on finding the treasure.
2. Laugh at the “Inner Crazy.”
I actually laugh at the crazy thoughts in my head, the impatience, and the belief that I need to get it all done or know it all to enjoy my life now. I just laugh at it! It makes things a lot lighter.
Basically, this little game entails calling out my ego for what it is: part of who I am as a human, but not my whole truth. We need our egos to partake in this world, but when it constitutes the majority of who we think we are, it can lead us astray and leave us feeling too stressed to be happy.
Functioning on 100% ego = Inner Crazy.
When I notice myself starting to get impatient–rolling my eyes, tapping my feet, wondering how on earth I’m going to get through what I need to accomplish–I take a deep breath and say, “I see you!” I see the Inner Crazy that crept in and made me think it was me.
When the crazy thoughts catch me off guard and trick me into identifying with them, I can still catch the Inner Crazy off guard and call it out for what it is: it’s NOT me.
The funny thing, when I laugh at the crazy thoughts in my head, is that they have nothing to say back.
They kind of disappear when the light of awareness is shining on them. My awareness that is aware of the ego’s games dispels the darkness, and I’m lightened up enough to consciously practice patience with a lot more ease.
3. How little can I carry?
I’ve been practicing surrendering what I can’t control, or what I think I need to be in control of, to a higher order of things. It’s really just another way to practice patience.
Strengthening my trust in a bigger process, one that’s in no way obligated to reveal itself to me, is a huge element of consistent happiness. Trust fortifies peace. A willingness to trust that all is as it’s supposed to be–because all is as it is–is liberating, in that it frees one to actually more fully enjoy the process.
I don’t think of surrender as resigning to how life is right now, but accepting it so that if change is what we want, then that’s what we’re empowered to initiate. It’s about releasing attachment to how we think life “should” be.
If I’m impatient, I wonder: “How much can I let go? How little can I carry? How light can I be?”
Faith isn’t blind, it’s visionary. How things are right now might be exactly how things need be in relation to the whole journey.
The movement of the planets, the birth of babies, and the growth of flowers are built into a natural system. So are we. We can attempt to direct this force, which interferes with it, or we can relax into it, allowing it to work on our behalf. Things can happen TO us, or they can happen FOR us.
Sometimes, our capacity to enjoy life reflects the depth of our willingness to allow life to work on our behalf, to happen for us. Our impatience is interference. Our patience is an awareness of an unfolding force for good, constantly at work in all dimensions.
How little can you carry?
- Which of these three “games” might you try in your own life today?
- How do you practice patience?
- Can you think of a time when you experienced a positive internal shift from impatience to trust, and how did that inspire an external shift?
Please share your thoughts, helpful insights and lessons learned in patience, and any inspiring stories of a positive shift with me in the comments.
Share this post with someone you think might appreciate new ways to live in the world.
Your patience is a blessing on the world and a gift for you, and it’s a practice.
Free flower graphic by Fox and Hazel; lettering by Aim Happy.