Patience Pants

Hi Folks: When Marcia and I were in Sidney recently, we picked up a copy of the December 2009 issue of a magazine called the ‘Seaside Times‘. There were some excellent articles in there, and the magazine is well worth reading – on paper or online. Included was an article by Cathy Hanan on remembering to take a step back when you’re feeling a little extra stress. She titled her article ‘Put on Your Patience Pants This Holiday Season‘, and I liked it so much I wanted to share it with you:

“While the holiday season is supposed to be about family gatherings, friendship and good tidings, more often than not it becomes a season filled with stress, obligatory parties, overcrowding and endless traffic.

This year I’m going to try a new technique to deal with the inevitable chaos that surrounds the holidays – patience.

Last summer I was driving from the Peninsula to Langford to take care of a friend’s dog for the weekend.  The gentleman in front of me at the McTavish four-way stop was kind enough to let all the other cars have right of way – twice. Then I was cut off by a truck as I merged onto the highway and into ferry traffic. With the traffic came impatient drivers zipping between lanes (but not really getting anywhere), and the “oh, look at the lovely lake” slowdown at Elk Lake. It took 20 minutes longer than expected, but I eventually made it to my destination

As my friends left to head up island for the weekend I quickly remarked “put on your patience pants, it’s one of THOSE days on the road.” We laughed at the thought and they headed on their way. When they returned on Sunday they said they had laughed all the way over the Malahat – the traffic was chaos and they had needed their patience pants.

I shared the phrase with my friend Sarah. She promptly used it with her young nephews, who thought it was funny, but understood the concept while waiting in line for ice cream.

Not long after she was in the post office, waiting while the clerk carefully assisted a woman with the same task over and over. She turned to the woman in line behind her and whispered, “wow, she must have put her patience pants on this morning.” They both laughed, then chatted for another few minutes until the clerk was free.

It’s a silly phrase but it reminds me to take a deep breath and put the whole situation in perspective. Is it really that important? Will five extra minutes make or break my day? Our daily lives have become instantaneous and with it we’ve lost patience. We expect everyone to have a cell phone, we demand immediate response to emails and we’re constantly searching for ways to make life faster and easier.

As we enter the holiday season, remember it’s nobody’s fault the rain is pelting or the parking lot is beyond capacity. The overworked waitress is doing her best to get your meal quickly and the clerk behind the counter is not responsible for the debit machine being out of service.

You probably can’t control the situation, but you can control how you react to it. Take the extra five minutes in line to chat with the person behind you. They are probably just as frustrated and your patience might rub off.

It’s all about how you look at it. So this year – before you head out to shop, celebrate or travel – stop and take a minute to put on your patience pants and have a happier, healthier holiday season.”

My sentiments exactly!