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Master Patience

Yes, the title is sarcastic, but for me and many others these days, it's true. How can we be patient? Let's see . . .

1. Why did that person cut me off in traffic?!

2. What's taking our food so long?

3. Hurry up . . . we have to get to our fifth sport of the night!

Boy, I could come up with a page full of these things. Many manage patience according to a thought by Margaret Thatcher: "I'm extraordinarily patient provided I get my way in the end." That sounds like me. How we should manage patience is more in accordance to a quote by George Savile: "A man who is a master of patience is master of everything else." Or, my favorite quote by Michaelangelo: "Genius is eternal patience." The bottom line is that by trying to improve one's patience will ultimately lead to a more peaceful and promising existence. Think of times when you've been impatient. Are you ever happy during these times? My guess is no. Certainly, life can be extremely frustrating at times, but being impatient will only exacerbate the problems, not solve them.

Now, one may say that it's much easier said than done, and I agree. The key is to catch yourself when you feel those frustrations beginning to build. If you wait too long, it will be a lost cause. But, if you tell yourself "calm down . . . I can get through this" or "is this really that big of a deal?" I'll take my three examples above and test them out.

1. Who cares if someone cut me off in traffic? They're the one who is putting themselves in danger by driving recklessly. I'm still going to get where I need to go, so no big deal.

2. So what if the food is taking longer than normal. I should be happy that I have food to eat.

3. Does our family really need to overschedule our lives to the point of exhaustion? No, so don't.

Let's take an example from the classroom. It's the last week of school, the kids are hyper and excited. It's 90 degrees and sunny outside. You're trying to teach a lesson, and the kids are already "checked out" for the year. Yes, you could become frustrated since your lesson isn't going as planned. However, most things don't go as planned, so be ready for it. By being patient, you may realize . . .

1. It's beautiful outside and you'd like to enjoy the outside as much as the kids, so go outside! Play a game or sit in a circle and talk about the lesson in a different manner.

2. Who doesn't get excited for summer vacation? By being patient, you'll realize that when you were a student, you were probably no different than your students are right now. It's part of being a child at the end of the school year. Embrace it.

3. Think ahead and save your "greatest hits" lesson plans for the end of the year. That way, the kids will be more engaged in what you're teaching at this pivotal point in the year.

No matter what you choose, by practicing patience, your frustration levels will certainly go down. Anytime you try to swim against the current or fight a situation, little good can come of it. As Dory says, in Finding Nemo, "Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming."

By being patient, it allows you to ultimately see the innocence in most situations. Take the example above. Impatience will lead you to be angry and wonder why the students are not listening to you. However, by being patient, you'll see the innocence of children being excited for something. Therefore, instead of fighting losing battles, accept them with patience and go with the flow. It can be done.

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