Life grants us many opportunities to practice patience.
Being cut off in traffic, waiting behind perhaps the most elaborate Starbucks order ever, or having your flight delayed by 15 minutes every 15 minutes for 90 minutes, only to have it depart early (without you) while you take a stroll to one end of the terminal and back…
In all these instances and more, we are given an opportunity.
We can react abruptly, or pause, ‘feel our feelings’, assess the level of our feeling to the reality of the problem, consider more than just our own (often narrow) view of the situation, and ultimately think before acting.
To react is simple. One quick and simple step based on instinct, often on a host of assumptions as well.
Or we could choose another path, one less common, but perhaps more valuable for improving our skills at navigating this thing called life.
Assess and ask questions
Think things through
My brain, as most, leans towards reaction, rather than pausing, assessing, considering, and thinking. Although there may be one question asked… a reactive one like; WTF?!? — not helpful.
This is why I think of ‘PACT’ as a practice. Because it takes practice to implement consistently.
It’s a practice worth practicing.
Like Mom used to say, count to ten. Don’t count to ten winding yourself up; count to ten along with ten long exhales.
There is a time to pause and breathe. There is a time to ask questions:
Does it matter that this driver cut me off?
Should I have what she’s having?
What is the policy re delayed flights and flexible departure times?
There is time to contemplate and consider:
Is that a radar trap ahead… snagging the person that just cut me off?
Why have I been drinking the same boring-ass coffee for years? Maybe I should try something new.
Next time I know to stick close to the departure gate, because they will leave without me as soon as is possible to the original departure time.
And to think…
Maybe I should slow down, calm down, and drive a bit more wisely myself.
Damn, that’s a fine cup of coffee!
Wow, having a travel agent really paid off here. They got me re routed on another airline inside 15 minutes and I’m already boarding my next flight.
Don’t ask why. Asking why (while shaking our fist at the sky) is pointless behaviour.
Asking why of a living person and shaking our fist at them… even more pointless.
Asking why of the deceased is perhaps the most pointless of all.
Ask questions first of yourself, before asking anything of another.
Ask yourself how.
How can I get through this?
How can I get past this?
How can I do it alone?
How can I ask for help?
The next series of questions may be the ‘whos?’
Then the ‘whats?’ and ‘wheres?’
By the time one is done answering all of these questions they are often so far down the path of a solution, that the ‘why‘ questions just won’t matter at all. Because there is already another situation to;
And then, and only then, act on.