Category Archives: Lifestyle Balance

How do we teach patience to kids if we refuse to stand in a queue ourselves?

How many times have you faced a situation that you see a large crowd of people and turn around to go away? 

I have it regularly. There were liquidation sales at a golf shop, where I really wanted to have my shopping spree. Guess what, I was not the only one. However, when I saw the line of cars, desperately trying to find a parking spot in the neighborhood, I turned around and went home. Sales will be online somewhere. 

I don’t like waiting. No, let me rephrase – I actually genuinely hate waiting. I never make anyone wait for me, and I get really annoyed if someone or something doesn’t return that favor… But then again, for me, this is not the ”instant gratification” story. Not entirely. At the same time, I can perfectly work on something which will bring results far in the future (or maybe not even at all). This queue intolerance for me is the intolerance toward wasting time on apparently useless actions. 

For me queueing is a waste and good operations management principles are teaching us that waste needs to be eliminated… Now, what about patience? Patience is a virtue, as the saying goes. Does it apply to any patience though? Are there different types of patience? Is patience only about being able and willing to wait? Does patience stop being a virtue if it has no truly valuable goal? Is patience for the sake of patience even healthy? 

Coming back to the question in the title: so what about kids and patience? What is it exactly that we want to teach our kids, and is patience actually the right word for it?

The trap of rehearsing

Remember that story when you were still a toddler playing in a sandbox in the park, and a bigger kid came over to you and took your toy away? You were so angry and frustrated, and felt helpless… Remember? But are you sure you actually remember this exact moment? Are you convinced that all the details were right? Are you even confident it actually happened in reality and not in your childhood nightmare?

Our memory is horribly unreliable. What is more, we frequently confuse reality and imagination when it comes to something which happened in the past. Memory not rehearsed fades away. On the other hand, memory rehearsed over and over again becomes less of an accurate account of what happened, but rather a story we decided to tell ourselves.

The trap is: it is the story we tell ourselves which is the most powerful.

Any situation which happens affects us not directly, but through the emotions, it causes in us. The curious thing is that the initial emotion as a reaction to a particular situation or event is rather quick and also rapidly disappearing, unless…

Here is an important caveat — unless! Unless we start rehearsing the situation in our heads.

After a very short while it is no longer the fact that causes our emotion, but our interpretation of the fact.

Look, your boss calls you into the office and tells you that the report you made is total crap. You are insulted, you might disagree, but anyway — you feel embarrassed, sad and… (add whatever is applicable) After the incident, you keep on replaying in your head the whole situation, you start inventing dialogues, which never actually took place in reality and you start thinking about yourself as a total failure not able to complete even the simple task. Or… Maybe you just accept the fact that the report is a crap, ask what needs to be improved, brainstorm what else can be done and just get down to fixing the problem. The choice is yours.

The choice to get into the trap of rehearsing and a downward spiral of negative emotions versus focusing on the fact and how to fix the fact.

They say that time heals. It does, but this comes with a small print. Time heals if you don’t fall into the trap of rehearsing. I do have some painful memories, memories of a loss, which still haunts me from time to time. However, luckily I decided relatively early on that details, accusations, “what ifs” and “why oh whys” are not going to change anything. So I moved on. Some years later I don’t remember the details. I know the fact, it is not going anywhere, but the web of storytelling around it is just not the baggage I want to carry.

To draw the line, we cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our reaction. We are not able to choose our emotions, but we can avoid stimulating our emotions by unnecessary rehearsing of (perhaps already partially, or even completely invented) stories.

The silently allowed discrimination

Had a meat-eater written something like: “Learn to love meat. If you don’t love it, you don’t know how to do it right. It’s the best for you. Start with these simple steps:…”, vegetarians would have gone berserk. Frankly, I would not appreciate such a style either, as that excludes the possibility of making a choice. However, when a lark is writing something like: “Learn to wake up early. If you don’t love to wake up early, you don’t know how to do it right. It’s the best for you. Start with those simple steps:…”, owls just suck it up. But wait, isn’t that the same narrative just in a different context?

Moreover, this narrative keeps on coming at you in all forms possible: “you definitely need to write the Morning pages!”, “The best time is Morning!”, “It is scientifically proven that a person is most effective in the Morning!”, ”Let me teach you how to start waking up early!” — that’s just by skimming through several pages of popular public speakers and coaches. The silently allowed discrimination! Well, I do not know which science has proven what, but I am dangerously aggressive (LOL) before at least 8 or better 9 in the morning … Am I doomed? Efficiency and balance are not for me by definition?

Actually if one looks around, it might seem like a conspiracy. The social life seems to be made by and for the larks, which personally, I consider to be the cruelest injustice of this world. I will tell you more: if you dare to openly admit that you prefer to work at night, very often you can hear sympathy or comments like: either you do not know how to organize your day, or you cannot prioritize. “You steal your own efficiency!”, “You crush your balance!”, and as a cherry on the pie: “You should just try, you will get used to it!”.

You can, of course, get used to almost everything, but this does not mean that you will feel good about it, nor that it is actually the best way. And if it doesn’t seem to work for you… why would you torture yourself?

I would like to conclude my slightly emotional narrative by stressing that the matter of conscious choice is relevant not only in respect of global issues, but also in connection with certain small habits and actions. There are no one-size-fits-all approaches. There are no magic transformations of owls into larks either. It all starts with knowing yourself, your needs and also your limitations. Most importantly, if it works for Tony Robbins (or anyone else, pick your favourite!), it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you. Thus, if you are more comfortable in the shadow of the night, start writing “Night pages” — they will be just as good and much more natural for you.

The value of time. You get what you tolerate.

Time is precious, time is the only thing which cannot be bought despite the amount of money on one’s bank account. An obvious notion, so rarely forgotten… More than often we treat time like we have an endless supply of it, we waste that of our own and… fail to show respect to that of others. The latter is what I would like to address in this post.

Continue reading The value of time. You get what you tolerate.

Grit: the missing puzzle piece

She was sitting at the table for whole 15 minutes, which for her is already a very long stretch of time. Sighing and whining our daughter was struggling through cursive letters; until finally she angrily dropped the pen. She was fuming and downhearted. That “stupid cursive” failed to obey her. 

“Why can’t you just immediately know how to do it right?!”, — she shouted, her eyes filled with sadness. 

Indeed, why can’t you?… Continue reading Grit: the missing puzzle piece