Why Am I So Impatient Sometimes?

It seems to me probable that anyone who has a series of intolerable positions to put up with must have been responsible for them in some extent; not that it was simply “their fault” – I don’t mean that – but that they have contributed to it by impatience, or intolerance, or brusqueness – or some provocation. ~ Robert Hugh Benson (1871 – 1914)

Just the other day I found myself standing with others near the delivery counter at a local Starbucks tapping my foot – not to the music I was listening to (Led Zeppelin IV by the way) – but to the timer in my head counting the time as I waited for my cup to hit the pass-through!  I think the total time from order to first sip was like…two minutes.  The nerve of “Fivebucks,” making we wait like that!  If I want coffee in two minutes I would make myself a cup from my Keurig before leaving the house each morning.  When it comes to coffee I expect every barista, even those I’ve never order from before, to simply know what I want and have it on the counter when I arrive to pay.

Okay, I’m exaggerating a little, but I did find myself being a tad impatient.  When did it come to this?  I think I was twelve when my father shared his thermos of coffee with me while we were fishing – thanks, Dad!  One rule he had was that if I were the one to drain the carafe of the last drop, I had to make a fresh pot.  Because we had an electric percolator back then it took twenty minutes to brew a pot of coffee.  Twenty minutes!  Dad thought he’d hit the lottery when the Mr. Coffee was invented and brew times dropped to ten minutes.  And here I am being pissy about a two minute wait for a latte!

It’s been found through studies that we tend to lean more toward anticipation as we grow older.  How much older will I need to be?  Dr. George Eman Vaillant considered anticipation as one of “the mature ways of dealing with real stress…You reduce the stress of some difficult challenge by anticipating what it will be like and preparing for how you are going to deal with it.  There is evidence that “the use of mature defenses (sublimation, anticipation) tended to increase with age.”  Can this be so?  Is the key to having more patience just a matter of reducing our stress levels?  So I don’t actually have to be older to find my patience, I just need to reduce stress.  That I can do!  After a short tour of some Google search results, I found 99 year old Randy Godlose and his Set’s All Set blog.  There, he espouses Five Easy Ways to Reduce Stress.

Here they are:

  1. Green – the color, not money.  Although more money would reduce some measure of stress, Set reminds us that “staring at something green, your mind tells your heart to relax and it slows down.”  Good advice!
  2. Soothing, Soft Music – I think we can all agree to this one.  This is why your dentist and doctor aren’t blasting AC/DC’s “Back in Black” from the house music system.  They want you relaxed, so you get to listen to Air Supply while you wait.
  3. Breathe Deep – “Breathing deep expands the stomach rather than the chest and can be very therapeutic.   This breathing technique allows for better absorption of oxygen thus also relieving physical stress.”  This answers why guys can get so stupid in the company of women.  All that inflated chest breathing is increasing heart rates, lowering oxygen absorption, and boosting stress levels.
  4. Physical exercise – Yes, as Set tells us, exercise is physical stress which can lead to emotional stress if we aren’t conditioned to handle it.  Exercise conditions our bodies to increased tolerances for managing physical stress, which reduces our mental/emotional stress.
  5. Chewing your food – The science behind this recommendation simply must be read, so I’m leaving this one to you.  I’ll just say this – I now know why people on liquid diets always seem ready at the drop of a hat to throw a punch.

So there it is – five easy ways to reduce your stress, and increase your patience.  Easy-squeezy as my wife would say.  And what I really like about this list?  Not one of the five suggestions says anything about cutting back on my caffeine intake.  Good for you, Set!

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