Knowing what you want – truly want – is an important element of health and happiness. It’s not always that easy, though. Sometimes having this sort of ultimate clarity is a challenge. Each of us follows a unique path to this enlightenment, and certain people never really know what they want. Those who do, though, are one step closer to peaceful happiness.
Once you know what you want, figuring out how to pursue that happiness can present a whole different set of challenges. Pursuing true happiness involves intention, commitment, passion, courage, energy, discipline, support, compassion….and patience.
Patience. A virtue gone by the wayside. We’ve evolved into such an instant gratification society that the opportunity to practice patience is practically extinct. The benefits of being patient, however, are still as alive as ever. Patience keeps your heart healthy, your mind clear, your emotions calm, and your spirit steady. Without patience, we end up frustrated, scared, angry, anxiety, and sad.
So how can we integrate simple ways to practice patience into our daily lives?
1) Breathe. Breathe slowly and deeply. We all have to do it, it costs nothing, and it feels good.
2) Exercise. Physical activity triggers all sorts of beneficial biochemical reactions in your mind/body to keep energy paths clear and calm; and while your doing exercise, let your thoughts lead you to patience.
3) Talk. Talk to a friend, lover, family member….whomever is your confidant. Talking leads to clarity of thoughts, feelings, and desires.
4) Meditate. Meditation creates space between an activating event and a reaction. Learning meditation skills can enable us to call upon our patience when we need it the most.
“We begin with ourselves to understand our own true nature. We must recognize our habitual ways of thinking and the contents of our thoughts. Sometimes our thoughts run around in circles, and we are engulfed in distrust, pessimism, conflict, sorrow, or jealousy. When our mind is like that, our words and actions will naturally manifest these characteristics of mind and cause harm to ourselves and others. …when a thought or idea arises, we recognize it and smile to it. That may be enough to make it cease. Appropriate mental attention brings us happiness, peace, clarity, and love. Inappropriate attention fills our mind with sorrow, anger, and prejudice. ….start by practicing mindfulness on our thoughts so we can see them clearly and prevent our mind from wandering down paths of unhealthy attention.”
From “Teachings of Love” by Thich Nhat Hahn.