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St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center
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Care That Moves You

Sep 1 2015
A Doctor and His Patience

    I have a good friend who has Border Collies, and, put simply, they are frisbee dogs. See for yourself: these dogs are unbelievable ( https://youtu.be/kTfj_Cn-WmQ ). 

    It's hard to imagine that they could learn to do these tricks. But... they did. And when I ask him how he did it, he laughs, and shakes his head, and says "Patience. A lot of patience." Because, it turns out, each multi-step, complex trick was learned one painstakingly repeated detail after another, over and over and over. 
    Patience is a funny thing. It's easiest to have patience in those times when we need it least: when things are running smoothly, when projects succeed and problems get solved. It's easy to be courteous when there's no line at the post office. 

    But there's another side to that coin, and we all know how it feels when our patience runs thin: Traffic backups when you're already late to work. Check-writers at Wegman's (Really? It's 2015, people). Prius drivers! (Sorry, honey.) Don't they know the rest of us have things to do? 
    Okay: I am not, by nature, a patient person. My days are full; they start early, and they run late. For many years, I have tried to do as much as I can, every day. As I see it, my time on earth is limited, and I want to make as much of it as possible.

And then it hit me: what if I am hurrying the days away? 

    So, recently I have been trying something new: I have been practicing patience. Now, in an effort to slow down a little, I look for the longest lines at the supermarket, and I practice waiting. I will draw out a project or job, taking steps to be sure I am well-prepared, so that, without rushing, I can do it right. I make a focused, intentional effort to appreciate a given process, to undertake it with conviction, and to complete it well - even if it takes longer. 

    And two things have happened. First... I'm not really much slower at anything than I was before. Careful, complete preparation and patient completion yield good results the first time.
And... I am ENJOYING things much more than I used to. By not hurrying, by not rushing to get something done quickly, I am tapping in to a level of focus I didn't fully have before. Tasks that seemed like work before have become genuinely pleasant endeavors. 
    Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden once said "Be quick, but don't hurry." And I think I am starting to get it.


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