Rooms 33-36: Practice the Art of Impatience
All our lives we've been told that patience is a virtue and all good things come to those who wait. We've been taught to take our time, be prepared and when the moment is right, take action.
Sounds like good advice, right? Well, it can be.
Of course, it can also be a recipe on how to live half a life. With apologies to prophets and Boy Scouts everywhere, patience and preparation are often overrated.
Take me for example. I’m patient, prudent, and cautious. But, let’s be honest. My waiting sometimes goes beyond choosing wisely. In fact, let's call it what it is—procrastination, laziness, fear, and a strong need for life to be in perfect order before I make a move.
And, on paper, it makes sense. Life has a tendency to make us nervous. There’s high unemployment, a crumbling social security system, increasing poverty, along with dozens of other high anxiety stressors.
In today’s uncertain world, we crave security and notarized assurances that our choices will lead us to the life we want to live, as if we could actually be guaranteed of that.
So, what do we do? We dot our I's and cross our T's, then wait for the stars in the universe to line up perfectly before we move an inch. And in the process, we do nothing, become nothing, achieve nothing.
We stay in the same room...waiting for the right moment to start living.
I suspect this isn't the patience ancient philosophers were talking about. Rather, this is a retreat from life, an escape from having to make a choice or take a chance.
Well, I don't know about you, but I'm tired of waiting for life to begin. As the old saying goes, "this isn't a dress rehearsal." It's time to rally the troops and put life on notice that there’ll be no more waiting.
Yes, we'll be prepared, use good judgement, follow our instincts. Yes, we can recognize that there is wisdom in knowing when to act, but from this day forward, we will live with boldness, passion and the knowingness that we don't have to wait to start living our lives.
And, of course, if you’ve been following along with The Other 999 Room Challenge, you’re already doing this. And with every room you visit, you’ve already made a choice—a choice to act and live without limitations.
Here are four places we can begin to say no to waiting, where we can begin to practice The Art of Impatience.
1. Don't wait for someone else to make you happy.
“Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.”
Veronica Shoffsall, poet
There’s a line in the movie Jerry Maguire, where Tom Cruise looks over to Renée Zellweger and, fighting back tears, declares his love with the line, “You complete me.”
This is the exact moment my wife puts her finger in her mouth. She hates the line. No one completes her...especially not me. If so, she’d be in big trouble. Believe me.
But, she’s right. While it may be a romantic line in a movie, it’s not a healthy way to be in a relationship. We may beautifully compliment one another, but come on, no one completes anybody.
The only one who completes you, is you.
In fact, the relationship we have with ourself is the most important one we’ll ever have. And this is coming from a man who has spent 29 years and counting, hopelessly in love with his wife. But, at the end of the day, I came into this world alone and I will go out alone. The only one who completes me...is me.
This week we can stop waiting for someone else to make us happy by focusing on the relationship we have with ourselves. Do this and we will inevitably realize the happier and more comfortable we are with ourselves, the more likely we’ll attract healthy relationships into our lives.
Now, if you don’t think you have a healthy relationship with yourself, get out of the room you’re in and do something about it. See a therapist, talk to friends, join a support group, read, contemplate, and if all else fails, visit Room 9 and Start Looking For Your Orange.
2. Don't wait to love what you do.
“Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
When it comes to our work life, we tend to get into the habit of thinking that we can only love something when it’s perfect—when it’s exactly what we’ve always wanted to do or what we think we were meant to do. This is why we hear everyone from Wayne Dyer to Oprah Winfrey telling us to do what we love and everything else will take care of itself. It’s good advice. We should do what we love to do. But, the advice is not so easy to take when the rent is due, or we have to eat, put gas in the car, and pay for insurance. Sometimes, we just need a paycheck and that means doing work that is far from glamorous, or something not exactly on our list of dream jobs.
Still, we don’t have to wait to love what we do.
This is why I love Mother Teresa’s quote so much. She tells us that our lives are not about the work, but the intent. If we really want to increase our awareness and move into new rooms, we can strive to love what we do, no matter what we do. We can strive to find meaning in the smallest chore or the seemingly most insignificant of jobs.
How we do this is up to each of us, but it essentially begins with our ability to let our work express our true nature—one of gratitude and service. It is our ability to know that purpose, meaning and love can be found in anything we do—as long as we choose to put it there.
This week, let’s see how many ways we can put this to the test.
Ultimately, it is in this place of awareness where all the great spiritual saints and prophets have lived. It’s not an easy room to get into, but it’s one that’s open to all of us.
3. Don’t wait to follow your passion.
“You’ve got to find what you love. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
Okay, here is the flip side to the last point. Just because we can find ways to love and express ourselves no matter what job we’re doing, doesn’t mean we should stop looking for our life’s purpose.
We owe it to ourselves and the universe to find the right way to express ourselves. It’s called being awake. Whether it’s working with animals, writing screenplays or raising children; saving whales, running corporations or helping families cope with Alzheimer’s, we should listen to that inner voice that wants us to find what we were meant to do.
And, if we already know what we were meant to do, let’s not wait to start doing it, even if we can’t make a living off of it. In fact, we lock ourselves in the same room every time we say to ourselves that our life’s purpose only has value if we make money at it.
If you want to write, start writing; if you want to be a chef, find opportunities to cook; if you want to help others, start helping others.
Don’t wait for money. Don’t wait for permission. Don’t wait until you’re an expert. Find a way to get started and do it. Get in the game and begin to feel the passion and excitement of doing what you were meant to do.
4. Don’t wait to start living.
“We are always getting ready to live, but never living.
”Ralph Waldo Emerson
Over the next couple weeks, notice how many times you find yourself waiting to do something you know you want to do. Ask yourself if you’re following your intuition and being wisely patient, or if you’re just procrastinating, being lazy, fearful, or needing things to be perfect?
Find two or three places where it makes sense to stop waiting and go for it. Feel the urgency to jump in and join life.
In other words, don’t wait until Monday to start exercising, or the first of the month to begin eating healthy, or January to stop smoking. Don’t wait to start the book you’ve always wanted to write or the new business you’ve always dreamed of starting. Don’t wait to take guitar lessons, sign up for the half marathon, or camp out in the backyard with your kids. Don’t wait to call a long lost friend, to help out, make a difference, say I love you. Don’t wait for any of it.
And, whatever you do, don’t wait until Thanksgiving to use the good china. Use it now. What are you waiting for? Life is for today, not tomorrow.
And when it comes to living a good life, a little impatience goes a long way.