Stay present, stay patient

The Christmas shopping period is well underway as people flock to the streets to buy gifts for their loved ones. I’ve started to notice an increase in the number of cars in the city centre during the evenings, with long queues stretching up the motorway. But what does this volume of traffic do to us?

One effect is a sense of running behind, leading us to feel like we need to rush. We see this in the shops as people hurry to get around the crowds and finish as quickly as possible. We also see this on the roads before and after shopping. We drive more impatiently when the roads get busier, or if we’ve been delayed by something or someone. We look for any opportunity to get ahead of the queues as we quite innocently focus on our destination and forget about how we are getting there. This distracted attention quite often leaves us feeling stressed and eventually fatigued, but there is a different way to look at the busy chaos on the roads and in the shops this time of year.

See it as an opportunity to practice patience. Patience in well known to be a virtue, but we forget it must be cultivated. Without consistent practice we fall back into the habits we have learnt from a culture highly influenced by instant gratification. We have become used to getting what we want when we want it. We can do our food shopping from the comfort of our own home and someone else will bring it to us when we want them to. We can download movies right this very second and don’t have to go to a video rental store anymore. If we don’t know something, then Google is there 24/7. As is the news to keep us constantly up to date with the world.

This connective freedom is an incredible thing, but we must be responsible with it lest we become, or remain, a distracted society. Honour the time it takes to do things and go places, for this time is your life.  Stay present, stay patient.

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