ELKHART COUNTY — Today, I am learning the value of patience once again. The internet is down. There is no email. Outgoing calls cannot be made, yet the phone calls can come in. And still, I have work to be done to prepare for tasks that must be completed soon. I hear myself groaning with frustration as I try to get the work done. I need to remind myself that good things usually come with patience.
I have always thought that farmers have to be patient. You plant a seed, you watch it grow through good weather and bad. You breed your cows, raise the calves, and eventually sell the milk or beef. Good things, it seems, comes to those who wait. Patience is part of the job description of a farmer.
And yet, here we are in a world that has become terribly impatient. We see, read and hear the impatience every day, online, on the evening news, out in public. People honking horns in traffic, annoyed about standing in lines, yelling or cursing at that slightest difference of opinion.
The great philosophers and religions of the world have long praised the value of patience. They have taught us that patience is a virtue, something than can be practiced, something we can improve upon. They teach us patience and focus through techniques like breathing, meditation, prayer, the use of beads to focus.
We all have our ways of dealing with stress, and we try to teach our kids patience. As a child, were you ever put in a time out? A few minutes separate from the source of stress can give children a better insight into the situation. How about closing your eyes and taking a few deep breathes, focusing on slowly exhaling? I find that technique works well for me when I need to put life’s tensions aside to focus on what is truly important.
There is much value to patience. Patient people enjoy better mental health. They deal with frustrations like malfunction computers, traffic jams and other daily irritations in ways that are healthier and more productive. Patient people tend to be good friends and neighbors. Patient people find ways to put up with other people’s quirks, and slip ups, even making those qualities more of a reason to be around them. Patient people tend to be in better health, and tend to be goals setters who achieve what they want with a long-term vision, rather than short term frustration.
Patience is linked to self-control, and delayed gratification. Finding ways to reframe your frustration into something positive, for instance, can make your day go better. While the internet is down, for instance, I’ve been able to tap out this column on my keyboard, making better use of my time, helping me forget about the stuff that was not going as planned, and achieving one of my daily goals in the process.
For farmers, delayed gratification is often framed as planting the seed, or saving a calf, which will contribute to future income on the farm. But gratification can be much more visionary. Expanding the farm for future generations, retiring to enjoy the fruits of your labor, helping the neighbor boy or a granddaughter get established in their own business. All these are ways to enjoy the life in the present and the future.
Practicing patience every day will not only make life more pleasant in the present, but might help pave the way for a more satisfying future.