Ever find yourself standing in line or stuck in traffic uttering ""I don't have time for this" under your breath? Do little things like automated message systems or individuals fumbling for their change at the checkout counter tend to make your blood pressure rise? Well, join the crowd, you are suffering from patience deficit or hurry sickness. M. J. Ryan, the author of Attitudes of Gratitude and The Giving Heart, starts this snappy and always engaging work with a few interesting facts: The average doctor visit now lasts eight minutes. Some McDonald's are promising lunch in ninety seconds or it's free. Developers of high rises have discovered an upwards limit to the number of floors — the amount of time people are willing to wait for elevators. Fifteen seconds is what feels best; if it stretches to forty, we freak out.
Yet all the religious traditions sing the praises of patience. Job for the Jews and Jesus for the Christians are fine models of this virtue. Muslims honor patience since it is one of the attributes of Allah. Many Buddhist teachers have sung the praises of this quality, especially as a lubricant in relationships. Ryan believes that patience is a habit that can be learned and reinforced by motivation, awareness, and practice. This handy resource, filled with many inspirational quotations, covers mental outlooks that embolden this activity and delineates some of the rewards that accrue from moving beyond the bad habit of impatience.
Let us count the ways patience adds luster to all of our experiences. According to Ryan, it connects us to hope, helps us live longer and more stress-free, guards the door to anger, gives us greater tolerance and empathy, makes us better parents, teaches the power of receptivity, is the heart of civility, and grows our souls. On the other hand, impatience leads to many problems. Perhaps you've sprained your ankle while rushing around. It is very easy to connect the dots and see that impatience can lead to anger and violence: that includes everything from family feuds to road rage. This inability to wait, as Americans have seen recently, can even lead to war.
We identify with many of the triggers to impatience that Ryan discusses — being interrupted, long lines, and voice mail loops where you can't get to the right person. Reframing is a fine way to bring patience to the fore; one person quoted in the book enjoys sitting in traffic because it gives him some time to really reflect on things. Other spurs to the practice of patience include watching your blood sugar level, issuing a storm warning to children about your feelings, tuning in to yourself in the morning, underwhelming yourself, and responding from your heart. The Power of Patience by M. J. Ryan is a gem that shines with the wisdom of a longtime practitioner of everyday spirituality.