“Sometimes life is like this dark tunnel. You can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you just keep moving… You will come to a better place.” – Uncle Iroh, Avatar.
I know – it’s super cheesy to use a quote from the kid’s show Avatar – but this piece of wisdom from Uncle Iroh to Aang as they were digging a tunnel is a somewhat profound life lesson neatly wrapped into ten seconds and is so easy to understand that a child could get it. Unfortunately somehow this lesson is lost on many – myself included – and honestly I wish it was a lesson I had learned sooner.
For those who haven’t seen it, or who need a refresher, Avatar Aang and Uncle Iroh are digging a tunnel to a buried city to save their friends. Along the way Aang seeks Iroh’s advice as he is frustrated with his slow (or, perhaps, lacking) progress and uncertain about the future.
I’m impatient. I’m a goal-oriented person and seek results and instant progress. So when progress is slow or seemingly non-existent I easily get frustrated and ready to throw in the towel. It’s in my impatience that uncertainty can take over and cause me to lose sight of what I really should focusing on. Be it a download or a project, if it’s not going as fast as I want it to frustration sets in quickly.
Our society of instant, easy access to everything is aiding in conditioning us to expect instant results. We don’t have to wait to access information, maps, communication, music, movies and TV shows. They’re ready instantaneously by just a click of a button. Society’s need for quickness is reflected through the “get rich quick” and “get fit quick” schemes often advertised. We even often get impatient with each other.
Not everything can be attained or achieved instantly – let alone easily. In all of the examples I listed above, each and every one of them require lots of time, patience and persistence. If you are patient and you persevere you will eventually attain what it is you’re seeking.
Sometimes it seems like it can take forever to realize the success you’ve been striving for. Some people may be able to move more quickly than you – but don’t let these things discourage you.
Take this notable example of Everywhereist from SEOmoz – she worked on her blog for about 3-5 hours every day. She could have given up a year or even two years into it, but she didn’t. She patiently kept working and eventually everything suddenly changed. Not only did she get tons of site visits, but she got several guest blogging gigs, mentions on major sites and even was featured in Time’s best blogs of 2011.
Getting fit and losing weight is a similar case in which instant success is desired and often nothing is ever achieved. People are so impatient to become what they want to be that they forget that it’s a process and it takes time – a journey if you will. You can’t get six-pack abs overnight, and you certainly can’t shed dozens of pounds overnight. Okay, you can lose dozens of pounds daily but I guarantee you the methods you’d have to use to do it are unhealthy, dangerous and highly unpleasant. If, instead of worrying about the goal or current situation, you focus your attention on the process and making sure to work on it everyday by eating right and exercising, then slowly the excess will come off.
While you need to be patient to see long-term goals come to fruition, you also need to be patient to become more patient. Patience can’t be acquired overnight. Like learning a language (or any of the above examples) you need to work on it every day.
“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.” – Buddhist Proverb
Be Patient And You Will Be Successful
Taking the path of least resistance may be easier, but is hardly ever fulfilling or worth it. There will be obstacles whenever you are trying to achieve something great – whether it be learning an instrument, speaking another language or losing 10 pounds – there will difficulties along the way. If you can be patient and keep working to overcome the obstacles though, you’ll not only achieve the goal but also be a better, stronger person in the end.
But It’s Okay To Take Breaks
Sometimes it’s more beneficial to walk away from a difficult time than it is to continue in the situation getting more frustrated and not making any progress. Take a slow, deep breath, hold it for a second, and then slowly release it. Do this a few more times. Or go for a quick walk or meditate for a few minutes to pull yourself away from the situation and clear out your frustrations so you can think through the problem – then return to the situation level and ready to overcome obstacles.
Look at the big picture. Step back and look at the issue in comparison to the overall picture. Remember what’s important and that this is just a minor step in the long journey.
Don’t Confuse Patience with Inaction or Complacency
Remember that being patient does not mean not taking action – that’s just lazy. Being patient is also not the same as complacency. You cannot get frustrated with your progress and stop working. Instead, you’ll have to work at it every day. If it’s a situation or person that makes you impatient, you can’t simply remove yourself and expect things to change. Things take time, but they won’t happen at all if you are simply waiting without actively working toward them.
Herein lies the deeper wisdom of Uncle Iroh as he spoke to Avatar Aang. Not only did he imply patience, but there was also the note of perseverance. If you stop working toward your goals, relationships or whatever, then things wont change. But if you keep working at it, little by little, and be patient, you’ll eventually get there.
It Takes Time
Nothing good happens right away. Expecting things right away will only help to make you more impatient. Take a deep breath and keep in mind that you are in it for the long-term. Remembering that things take time will help you greatly in becoming more patient.
Uncle Iroh’s character in Avatar frequently gives bits of wisdom to the other characters, but this particular one I found to be inspiring and applicable to my own life. Projects, goals, relationships – these are all examples of things that require patience and consistent work to achieve.
Finally being at peace with the realization that things take time, along with meditation and perspective have really helped me to become a more patient person.
What makes you impatient? How do you deal with it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Photo Credit: Trazomfreak