Not often does an interviewee ask the questions, but upon striking up conversation with Megan McDonough, award-winning author and CEO of ‘Science of Happiness’ and the Wholebeing Institute – my point of view is immediately invited into the equation.
“Why do <you> think it is important to cultivate patience?” she asks me (yes, interviewee to interviewer!) when I introduce the topic for todays Rescu. interview.
“Well, like handwritten thank you cards and everyday eye contact, patience is a dying quality,” I hear myself say. “As a mother racing after two school aged kids and collecting their lost shoes and bruised knees / egos on the way, I don’t have time to be patient!” I respond. “And as a journalist in the rapid online medium where my stories need to stand out, it’s not an interesting topic. It’s far from cool. And, besides, if you can’t Instagram a bowl of it or get a few likes for having a ‘patient’ status on Facebook, who is going to read all about it?” I ask.
Megan agrees that today’s fast pace is leaving the essential quality of patience behind. “I heard someone the other day say that instant gratification takes too long!” she laughs.
“Patience is indeed not a sexy topic. It’s not a ‘Ten Ways to Get Things Done’ type of attention-grabber. Patience and flexibility have to be cultivated. They take time…” she trails off. “What is there to say about patience to the person who is in a rush?” she asks me. “It’s a much deeper conversation, even if it’s not headline-grabbing.”
Patience and S.P.I.R.E:
For Megan, happiness is like a ladder that needs all the rungs in place to support happiness. The S.P.I.R.E approach makes the balance possible, she explains. “What we tend to do is segment ourselves into emotional happiness, which is one-dimensional,” she explains. The S.P.I.R.E method looks at happiness as a 3D experience, “so there are lots of different experiences that culminate into happiness, and qualities like, patience,” she explains. “I use it as a checklist.”
S = Spiritual, meaning the purpose in one’s life and the mindful fulfillment.
P = Physical – taking care of our physical wellbeing.
I = Intellectual – are we allowing ourselves to explore intellectual ideas we find?
R = Relationships are the number one predictor of wellbeing, Are we nurturing our relationships?
E = Emotions. This is about building resilience against negativity rather than denying the negative emotion. Negativity exists, we just have to learn now to be resilient against it.
“Patience is an emotional quality, but – in regards to S.P.I.R.E – you can’t experience it if you are, say, overtired,” Megan says. “If you want to cultivate more patience you may want to bring more of the Spiritual and Mindful parts into it – create distance between thoughts arising and the taking place. This helps us to react better to outside influences and we begin to see how inner and outer feelings react.”
“It’s worthwhile to practice mindfulness by just being aware of your body and space and watching your breathing and paying attention to what is arising,” she says. “Patience and flexibility takes mindfulness, so focus on strengths. If you use your strengths, you will have more patience and flexibility. If you try to be someone you aren’t, you can only maintain that for so long before you need to retreat back into your strengths and refuel,” she says.
“I don’t think patience and flexibility are the end game, they are a part of an experience that can be cultivated – you are always tested on this,” assures Megan.
“So, look at how you support yourself in the journey through S.P.I.R.E,” she notes, adding that patience and flexibility are not characteristics you can check off your list and wipe your hands of! “They are a lifelong journey.”
Be Patient With Yourself:
Don’t look at what is wrong, but rather what is right urges Megan. “We typically [think] ‘Oh My God, I need to exercise or eat better,’ and, in our minds, that is [asking ourselves] what’s wrong with what we are doing.”
Megan says we need to turn this attitude on its head by being more patient with ourselves and more flexible with what we have the time to do. “The brain has a trigger for what is not working, but when you flip that around and say, ‘Today I am going to focus on what works,’ you can wake up in the morning and focus on what you are looking forward to – meeting up with someone, hanging out with the kids, checking off some errands, being patient with cooking that pasta…”
What about days when nothing seems to be working out? “You are breathing, right? That’s a good day!” enthuses Megan,
So today is a good day. Good conversation, honest positivity and patience with my lack of Google-worthy headline. There’s no rush, right?
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