Why are we so impatient? The microwave might be the cause.

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” ― Aristotle

On my way home from work the other day I saw a man almost kill himself and others to avoid sitting through a traffic light. I have written before about how fast life moves, and the Christmas season puts that pace to another level. I am 57 years old and I cannot remember peoples patience in the earlier years of my life being so frail. Maybe, it was me that was impatient so I didn’t pay attention to the actions of others. Regardless, people today are holding on by the thinnest thread and are prone to losing their sanity at any moment, over the most innocuous things. I think the microwave might have to take some of the blame. There are a host of other modern conveniences that are under suspicion, but I believe the microwave might be the first to the dance. Let’s take a look at some of the devices that could be our alibis for an impatient living and some things we can do to reduce our impatience.

Let’s start with our main culprit, the microwave. It was first sold in 1946, and the technology for this device was derived from a RADAR system invented for the war. This device would allow us to cook food in a fraction of the time. Time saved would equal extra time for leisure, thus it was a win-win scenario.   Unbeknownst to the people of that day, this would become the lifesaver for many college students in the future. The die was cast and society would not go back. Our thirst for devices that would save time would eventually become insatiable. There is an old saying that says “With everything that is given, something is lost”, our patience was being lost and we didn’t even realize it.

As a child growing up in the 1970’s I would watch my parents do their banking, are you ready for this, inside an actual bank? I remember one year my mother telling me they were installing something called an ATM machine at our bank. This machine would allow a person to withdraw money without going inside the bank and without talking to another human being. I felt like we had been transported (no pun intended) into an episode of Star Trek. Banking could be done faster with the added convenience of having the bank open 24 hours per day just for you. The ATM helped revolutionize the future of banking and would eliminate the requirement for a person to have bank transactions during operational hours.  Society expects hours that will cater to their needs, in the meantime, patience was dwindling with every innovation.

The grandaddy of patience killers was launched in 1969 from meager beginnings. The letter “L” and “O” was sent 350 miles successfully and the network crashed afterward. This was the birth of the internet which ushered in the Information Age, life would never be the same. Fast forward almost 50 years and now automation through the local and worldwide networks allow us to do transactions of buying and selling (everything imaginable), right down to the automation of our homes. The instantaneous, results-driven society has allowed for many conveniences but everything comes with a price, and the toll is taken on our patience. Has anyone that is reading this been on a slow internet account lately? It is as frustrating as being behind a lost driver during rush hour traffic. So, how do we slow our world back down to a manageable pace and still remain relatively tranquil? We will take a look at a couple of ideas that might allow us to stay patient in a world that is far too busy.

Number one, if you are one of those individuals that sleep until the last possible moment, run out the door with a precision drive time to work, and if you encounter any obstacles on the way, you could become an impatience time bomb waiting to explode. My first suggestion for regaining patience is to allow extra time for delays that are unavoidable in life. An extra ten minutes of time can be the difference between totally stressed out and a day you can enjoy. In the big scheme of things, there are 168 hours in a week, what difference will ten minutes make? Give it a try, leave 10 minutes earlier in the morning for work,  or for the movies, or a dinner date. You will reap the rewards of being more relaxed and might regain some of your patience.

Number two has to do with commitments. There is an entire series off of blog posts available on the subject of saying yes too often. One of our problems with impatience can stem from overcommitting. We use devices to save time, then we, in turn, fill our schedule with more to do. The modern conveniences we have talked about are not inherently bad, they just produce adverse results when misused. I will leave it to experts that deal with time management to assist in determining the items to do and those that need to be omitted.  Just be aware that every commitment made restricts your schedule and tightens the noose on our free time, and this can lead to impatience.

In conclusion, of course, the microwave is not the cause of our impatience. The rub is to use technology and innovation to improve the quality of our lives, not to fill it with more obligations. If you suspect you are impatient, just ask one of your close friends, they will know, trust me. Slow down and let life come to you. We all live life one minute at a time. Trying to accomplish too much in a short period of time is a recipe for frustration and a lack of patience. I will leave you with a quote that demonstrates patience is a state of mind. “Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind.”

― David G. Allen

 

Solitude

Hello darkness, my old friend

I’ve come to talk with you again

Because a vision softly creeping

Left its seeds while I was sleeping

And the vision that was planted in my brain

Still remains

Within the sound of silence

Simon and Garfunkel

 

Life today happens almost instantly. One thing we might be missing in our lives is some time alone, in other words, solitude. The lyrics I opened this blog with might be familiar to some. The song is “The sound of silence”. I always enjoyed the irony of the title. We are constantly exposed to a stimulus of one type or another. I am amazed at the number of people that watch television on their tablets, phones, kindles and just about anything else you can imagine. We stream music, we listen to podcasts, we text, tweet, post to snapchat, and on rare occasions make a phone call. This constant bombardment of noise is having an effect on people, whether they realize it or not.  Yet, when we slow down, and relax and turn everything off an unusual thing takes place, we feel all alone. If you allow this strange sensation of “quiet “to occur on a regular basis, you might actually find yourself saying “Hello darkness, my old friend”. Is quiet and solitude becoming an abnormal event for humans in 2018? Let’s take a brief look at a life partially disconnected from all the noise.

 

There are mountains of data to support the health benefits of a person taking time to meditate, walk in the quiet of the morning or just sit and watch a beautiful sunrise. Isn’t it quite interesting that all the items listed cost you absolutely nothing but your time? The strange thing is you have to schedule the time to do nothing. If your schedule does not allow for periods of silence, you are in desperate need of solitude. I warn you, your first attempt at being alone might not go well. Being alone with our own thoughts might bore you the first time you try it, but don’t give up. You will quickly find it hard to survive your day without some alone time. I have allotted an hour a day of solitude for the last 20 years and my days would be harder to handle without that time alone. Start off slow and try 10 minutes as a starting point twice a week, but just be warned, it is addicting.

 

Solitude can change the way you interact with other people. When we have time to process our thoughts, we learn to slow down and listen to ourselves, which enhances our ability for listening to others. There is no magic bullet for learning to quiet yourself and turn off the noise. It is a discipline much like a good eating regiment, getting proper sleep and a host of other things that are essential for good health. Why do we fight against the things that will make our lives more fulfilling? Maybe we are afraid to venture off from the things most familiar to us? Either way, it will take a bit of courage, mixed with discipline and sprinkled with expectation. In the quiet, when all external factors are removed, we find our true identity. As we look in a mirror, we position our bodies, hold in our bellies, re-comb our hair (if you are lucky enough to have hair) and wait for that split second until we are convinced our appearance matches what we want to see. The first look most likely was the most accurate. In the moments of solitude, we are able to see ourselves and without distractions. Take a look at yourself when you are alone, this is the picture others see every day. Don’t be discouraged by what you find, be encouraged that you now have a starting point in which to begin your work. It is these moments when our lives come into focus. It is these times we begin to have an intimate meeting with ourselves.

 

The last thing I will discuss concerning solitude is the need for it when we are in a crisis. If you have ever flown on an airplane, it is amazing the difference in the view. I once flew over a place I had lived for 5 years and could scarcely recognize the terrain, or find my house from the maze of objects below.  Our problems are much the same. Many times, we need to see them from 10,000 feet and be removed from the middle of their presence. How can we elevate ourselves above the fray? You probably guessed it, being alone allows unfettered access to reason through the situation. One caveat I would give you about this procedure. Do not go into solitude with a martyr’s complex. Do not be a victim, just be a casual observer of the situation. Sometimes, it even helps to talk out loud to ourselves. Ensure no one is around or they might try to baker act you on the spot. I have found the combination of solitude with self-talk an amazing, therapeutic procedure. I am not a psychology major, I am unsure of exactly what takes place by being alone and having a discussion with oneself. I only know this; many problems appear different when I act on this procedure. It is in the still, calm of the early morning, or late night that I find my greatest therapy. I look for the sound of silence daily. It has become my dearest friend.

 

In conclusion, if you find yourself alone for a few minutes, don’t reach for the television remote. Take any free minute to let your mind wander and check in with your current situation. If you follow a regular routine of seeking solitude, removing noise will become part of your daily routine. This reminds me of the Kenny Chesney song, titled “Noise”. Here is the chorus:

“Noise

Yeah, we scream, yeah, we shout ’til we don’t have a voice

In the streets, in the crowds, it ain’t nothing but noise

Drowning out all the dreams of this Tennessee boy

Just trying to be heard in all this noise”

Is solitude a scary thing to entertain? Yes, being alone can be unsettling for some people, yet, many times it is exactly what you need. Start slow and make time to be alone even if just for a few minutes. When you are alone let your thoughts direct where you will go. The items that need your attention will come to you. Do not try to direct them, think and try to allow yourself to relax. Solutions that are needed many times are not the first ones that come to our mind. Enjoy the silence, just listen observe and allow yourself a few moments to be thankful for your life. It may not be glamorous, but you are alive and that is a gift itself. Schedule a time to do nothing. It will be filled with more than you can imagine.

 

What would you do if you were not afraid?

What would you do if you were not afraid?

 

What would you do if you were not afraid? Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO in a Barnard College Commencement in 2011 in New York City asked this question. I want to approach this question from a couple of places, none of them saying to be fearless requires you to be reckless.

 

So, what would you do?

What if you didn’t have any debt? How about if you didn’t have children? Let’s say you didn’t worry about what other people thought of your decision? Let’s look at the following questions. Do you know people that are successful that have children? Do you know successful people that have house payments or car payments? So, this is not the deciding factor in determining what you would do if you were not afraid.

 

What are your passions?

We all have natural abilities. The longest 8 hours you will ever spend in your life is the 8 hours at a job you hate. Life is short, too short. There is no reason to spend it doing things you hate. Steve Jobs once said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking”.

 

We might fear failure more than we value success

Psychology today has an article on “The Ten signs you might have a fear of failure” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201306/ten-signs-you-might-have-fear-failure

If we truly are to embrace the things we love in life, we have to be excused from fearing failure. We now call things a bucket list. This might be things we want to do before a certain age or even before we die. To add to Sheryl Sandberg’s quote “What would you do today if you were not afraid?

 

Last but not least: I cannot afford to quit life and chase my passion

Our budgets are determined by what we want to spend in a given month. Maybe you have traded your own dream for what others say should be everyone’s dream? Do we need a new car? An overpriced house? I am not saying any of these are bad. If someone wants these things they should pursue them, but not at the cost of doing what they are passionate for.  You might find a simpler life, with less commitments, less stress is exactly what you have been looking for all along. By the way, many people are making a lot of money doing the things they love.

 

In Conclusion

My blog is called: Listen. Think. Act. I do not propose to have the answers to your questions. I do not have the answers to the things I want to know. Maybe we should listen to people we admire and respect. Maybe, we should stop and think and do this on a regular basis. Yes, I mean literally set aside time to do nothing more than think. Finally, all this is useless unless we act. “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” Confucius My Dad use to tell me “Do something, even if it is wrong”. I would advise using this quote with much wisdom. I think he was saying, you have to do something or you will never get any closer to your goal. Do not become paralyzed by fear and uncertainty. You have one life to live. Go live it with passion for the things you love.

3 great things to implement from “The good old days”

When we look back at our earlier days in life it is easy for some to romanticize about that time period. While, there are good things from each generation, some of these gems are hard to dismiss as not essential in any age. The following are three things I believe we should always implement anywhere or anytime.

 

  1. Be polite and patient with others.

In the hustle of everyday life, many things must be done in a short period of time. Deadlines, are just a way of life. Senior citizens always seem to be present in the moment. I know, some of you will say, they are retired and do not have any deadlines. To some extent this is true, but maybe they have learned to slow down and do something right the first time. I raised my kids telling them there is no excuse to be rude. Most deadlines are self-imposed. Slow down, be patient and above all things be polite.

  1. Do I really need to buy this right now?

I could fill a warehouse with the number of things I have purchased on the spur of the moment, only to find them in a garage sale (I suppose today it might be Craigslist). Many of our senior citizens grew up during the Depression Era. Things didn’t get replaced, they were repaired. There was a real need to price items and think about buying before making the purchase. I seriously doubt our grandparents would believe one day we would spend $4.00 plus for a cup of coffee. Growing up my kids would tell me, Dad it is only $____, you can fill in the blanks. I told my kids, $3.00 is the same today and tomorrow, regardless of what you are purchasing. I wonder how much money has been given away to items I barely used?

 

  1. If you want to win someone’s heart, write them a letter

I love the modern conveniences that technology has provided for us. I remember trying to get in touch with someone in the 1970’s and the frustration of just trying to find their address or phone number. Yet, I learned to write letters at an early age. I remember being in Japan in 1994 while in the Marine Corps and writing my wife every night before I went to bed. Calling was out of the question with it being $2.00 plus per minute to talk on the phone. I confess it took time and was a great deal more work, but it was so meaningful. We sent thank you notes. We wrote letters to our grandparents. We were forced to communicate this way, but now I realize the value of a written letter. Gentlemen, if you want to know the way to your girl’s heart, write her a letter. She will most likely save with all her most valuable items.

 

In Conclusion

There aren’t any good old days. All our days we are alive can be amazing, we are the ones that determine their worth. Yet, a look back at a simpler time might just teach us that truly “The best things in life are free”. What are some of your best memories of your younger life?