A little plaque sits in the sunny window sill just right of the kitchen sink at my in-laws’ house in Murray, Utah. My eyes lit upon it as I was washing my hands after dinner this evening. “BE POSITIVE, PATIENT AND PERSISTENT” it reads. Doesn’t it say it all?
When you are positive, you are keeping your eyes open for the good in this life…and there is so much good if we can just open our eyes to it. A positive frame of mind lights the way for others who are in need of some encouragement; it is contagious. Even the most disenchanted of hearts can be enticed to enjoy life in the presence of someone who is genuinely positive. In spite of ourselves, the stories we carry with us, our wounds, our fears, our resentments–I truly believe that at the core of our being we want to be happy. Choosing to be positive is a giant leap in the direction of living with authentic happiness. It doesn’t mean that we escape suffering by any means; this isn’t living in denial of the world’s pain. On the contrary, a positive person might be extremely sensitive, cognizant of the world’s suffering–and because of this awareness, she is able to identify and savor the good that is available to her, the good that is always there. This active decision to see with the eyes of appreciation makes life a grand adventure, makes us curious to discover what awaits as we awaken to the beauty that surrounds us.
And then there’s patience. Wowzers is that a tough one! But again, here is something that can make all the difference in the world in the sphere of personal interactions, personal evolution. Patience smooths out situations that could feel prickly, it makes whole situations that feel fragmented, it strengthens us, our ability to be present, to love and accept ourselves and everyone around us just as we all are. Think about the safety a child must feel in the presence of someone who is truly patient. A child learns by doing, by experimenting, by falling and getting back up again. A patient person affirms that it is okay to make mistakes, and to take as long as needed to learn–and doesn’t make anyone feel like a failure for not getting it right away.
I’m working on developing more patience, especially with myself. It’s sobering to see that I am disproportionately more patient with others than I am with myself, that I can accept others’ need to learn at their own pace but am somehow intolerant of my own learning process. Happily I can call the work I’m doing a practice, and remember from time to time that there isn’t any pressure to be anything other than what I am right now. Imagine what the world would look like if we were patient enough with ourselves to extend genuine patience to one another.
And finally there is persistence. It’s not easy being positive in the face of the many terrifying things that happen on this planet on a daily basis. It’s not easy being patient, especially when we’re tired, hungry, lonely, emotionally charged…but we can evoke our persistence and ask ourselves to keep trying in spite of the challenges we face. Without persistence we might give up at the first sign of challenge. How would we grow without it? How would babies learn how to walk if they gave up after falling one time? How would we learn how to love if we went into hiding the first time our hearts were broken? How could we grow stronger if we were too quick to throw in the towel when things get heavy?
Let us persist through our human challenges. Let us look for the good and the positive in our lives. Let us be patient with ourselves and others as we navigate this human life…let us light the way for others, so that the benefits of our work may extend beyond our personal stories.
You need more patience?
Plant an acorn in the forest floor,
sit by it, and wait.
Do you need to work on being positive?
Then trust that something beautiful will happen as you wait.
Wait for the first little green shoot to appear.
Wait and watch it grow,
see the first leaves unfurling.
Do you want to know persistence?
Wait through the seasons,
through all the weather,
the day and the night,
the hot and the cold,
the moon, sun, wind and rain.
If you wait long enough,
you will see a majestic oak tree.
So it is with our lives.