Friday, December 22, 2006

Gratitude and Patience

These are the two things that I have understood differently in the last year or so. Trying to develop a deeper sense and sensitivity to gratitude and patience, oddly, feels like more of the same goodness that we never cared too much about. In some ways, taking time to improve one's ability to be grateful and patient in life may appear to some people as a wasted effort, as it does not have an immediate tangible benefit. But only as much as going to the gym to build muscular strength may be called an exercise in futility.

Indeed, I've found that building patience and gratitude is also best accomplished by philosophical work-out sessions. You need to sweat a little every day, figuratively that is. You must be willing to put your psyche in slightly uncomfortable situations, to stretch that much harder mentally, and to exert mind and sinew to emerge stronger. Your daily life is the only gym you need.

You just missed the bus or train to work, and you are getting increasingly restless every second , possibly until you get into the next bus or call a taxi instead. Its not helping your patience. I have absolutely no doubt that exercising restraint and inculcating a little bit of patience in the smallest of small things we do is what ultimately prepares us for the more taxing challenges in life. If you tap your feet alternating endlessly between the accelerator and the brake at a red signal, almost hearing your breath counting down to three, two , one, go, DON'T. When you have to stand in a very long queue, make it an opportunity to build some patience. It pays. Perhaps, later on in life, when a few experiments or proposals don't go very well, and you want to quit, or take a shorter alternative, while you may be within striking distance of making it work, patience will help.

To be able to look at a glass half-full, you have to first be thankful that you have atleast half, where the glass could so easily have been empty. It is tempting to feel miserable because the others around you may have their glasses full, and you think you're the only one who doesn't. The obvious truth that we have to be grateful for is that there are many more who perhaps don't even have a glass in the first place, and then there are others with a perfectly-empty glass. Our temporary misery blinds us to our relative well-being.

And again, a quick exercise of gratitude in our routines will help us dealing with more challenges in life, head-on and hopeful.