The Importance of Patience transcript
Although each of the 100+ strens in this series contribute to creating a joyous, meaningful life, today’s wisdom, “The Importance of Patience” and the following, “The Secret of Acquiring Patience,” are among the most powerful I have to offer.
We require patience to pursue the common sense solutions that are necessary for long term benefits. Patience is critical for teach ourselves the wisdoms that free us from dictators and for wisely self-managing our creative power. Patience is also the means by which we come to value prevention and thereby spare us the need to repair damage from impulsive actions. Prevention is action we take now to convert a future negative event into a non-event. Since future non-events are seldom rewarding, we require considerable patience to initiate preventive action.
Every newborn expresses the “impatient” motto, “I want what I want when I want it.” The immature mind divides the world into two entities, “me” and “not me.” Helpless and requiring that every need be provided; crying loud and angry and as long as it takes to get attention is one of the universal hallmarks of impatience. Our work-in-progress is transforming ourselves from a demanding, self-centered crybaby into a powerful and wise creator.
Patience is the voluntary decision to forgo immediate reward or to tolerate stress because we understand that an alternative action brings us preferable lasting future benefits. Patience involves applying common sense wisdom to knowledge. We imagine alternative courses of action, apply logic to choose from among them, and then devise a preferred course of action to reach the future goal. Patience is the mother of good judgment. Resignation, on the other hand, implies passively submitting to authority other than our own. For example, instinct and tradition demand that we automatically follow their directions even when they are not supported by common sense. Instinct and tradition are powerful dictators because they are hard-wired with emotion. Common sense intelligence is supported by logic; logic is devoid of emotion. This is why instinct and tradition usually dominate intellect until we attach emotion to common sense thinking.
Instinct pre-wires us during the nine months that precede our birth. We inherit a vast repertoire of the trial-and-error behaviors that have survived virtually every test nature has created over billions of years. Instinct’s pre-wired commands to protect our self and our tribe irrespective of the harm to others, along with our superior intelligence, explains why we are among the 2-3% of earth’s creatures that have avoided extinction through the ongoing drama of creation. Instinct advocates the mindless emergency survival of the fittest and fight or flight responses that were successful in a primitive environment.
Tradition consists of the tried and true solutions that our ancestors proved were effective to solve today’s problems based on yesterday’s knowledge. From birth through the two or three decades we require to free our thinking from fate and circumstance, we submit to whatever programming our nurturers make of us. Tradition determines our language, which country, religion, and political view constitute “our” tribe, our gender behavior, and even what we are to think.
We benefit from both instinct and tradition because they provide us many solutions that were arrived at by others’ mistakes. They hereby spare us from having to repeat the same poor judgment. Being programmed to benefit from others’ solutions and mistakes is a fantastic asset. Instinct is programmed in our biology prior to our birth. Our nurturers program their traditions during our decades-long journey from birth to maturity. Instinct and tradition are very powerful because they live in the older portion of our brain that links them to emotion. They offer readymade, virtually automatic, effortless, easy to follow directions because good and right are clearly distinguished from evil and wrong. They don’t require common sense wisdom to create newer solutions. Instinct and tradition are marvelous assets because they are on ready alert to provide us tested and proven solutions to challenges to our well-being. Effectiveness is based on past success, common sense evaluation of effectiveness prior to action, what we call “prevention,” is lacking. It is a trade off for having previously scripted automatic reactions to threatening situations. And since most of the challenges we face are repetitions of past challenges, hardwired solutions usually work, unfortunately this is not completely so!
New knowledge takes us into inexperienced territory. Novel challenges may require that we bypass or override the demands of instinct and tradition. Creative solutions to new problems are a primary function of our mature cerebral cortex. Like a lighthouse’s searchlight, one function of our freedom organ is to scan the horizon and focus on those areas that need attention. This cortical portion of our brain, when mature, has the ability to make good judgments by applying logic and universal wisdom to current knowledge. Our use of symbols allows us to mentally rehearse alternative actions, apply common sense logic to wisely choose from among them, and then devise the paths that create the preferred outcome. Voila! Eureka! Brilliant! Hurrah for our newer common sense way of thinking.
BUT WAIT. There is a major problem. Emotion rules intellect! We engage in mental rehearsal. We clearly understand that the future benefits of delaying immediate gratification are greater and longer lasting, yet we still succumb to immediate emotional satisfaction! How often have you clearly known what was in your best long term interest, but still took action according to what was satisfying or relieving of tension at the moment? Can you think of examples involving food or anger where you gave in to emotions and later regretted your actions? Since instinct and tradition are hard-wired to emotion, we are innately prone to remain servant to the commands made by these dictators. Yesterday’s solutions to new problems often lead to short term gain at the expense of long term pain. Even though our original self-designed brilliant plan offers a more lasting positive outcome, emotion commonly triumphs over good judgment. No matter how much we increase our creative power through new knowledge, our thinking will remain servant to instinct and tradition until we teach ourselves sufficient patience to replace hard-wired solutions with common sense problem-solving.
Patience is a necessary ingredient to attain mental freedom from instinct and tradition, what I call self-mastery. Common sense wisdom, unlike passively acquired instinct and tradition, is not hard-wired. Common sense problem-solving requires the patience to acquire knowledge, collect data, mentally imagine alternative action pathways, wisely select from the alternatives, and then devise and implement a plan to reach the preferred future destination. The secret of adding emotion to intellect to strengthen common sense thinking is the powerful wisdom to be provided in the next stren.
Here is a bit of bonus information about the importance of patience. Nature has gifted us its latest model brain. It contains a freedom organ, our sophisticated cerebral cortex that distinguishes us from all other life. Collectively, humankind is provided with the intelligence to become not only master of its own destiny but also determine the future of mother earth. Individually, we may become master of our self! We are the growing edge of a work-in-progress by a force that has created all that is about us. Only we have the ability to use symbols, assign meaning to our interpretations, manipulate our mental creations, and apply will power to introduce new phenomenon into the physical world we share in common. No other life, past or present, has such power to acquire and interpret knowledge. We alone collect, store, share, and pass knowledge on to future generationswho become increasingly powerful creators.
We introduce new phenomena into the world, like automobiles, libraries, and nuclear bombs, which nature would never produce without the action of our intelligent freedom organ. As we continue to amass knowledge of the universal rules of cause and effect, we increasingly add to both our creative and destructive power. Consider how each successive war introduces newer, more powerful weapons. From teeth, sticks, and stones, that require direct contact and can only injure one person at a time, we have created such ultimate destructive power that one individual can set off Armageddon by the utterance of a word or the push of a button without any personal contact with a so-called enemy. Due to the current explosion of our sciences we have suddenly made ourselves such powerful creators that we now determine who we are, what we become, and who among earth’s creatures will survive. We suddenly find ourselves in a race to establish Utopia on earth before we become the first creature to intentionally cause its own extinction. The extraordinary drama of our time is that after 3 ½ billion years of life on earth, our generation has accumulated sufficient knowledge to make us master of all that is about us as we struggle to become masters of ourselves.
Humankind has elevated itself to become the most powerful tribe in earth’s long history. We are the growing edge of creation’s work-in-progress. The more powerful we make ourselves, the less we remain dependent on fate and circumstance. With our privilege, we assume responsibility, and with it, our burden. With patience, we can teach ourselves a newer way of thinking that applies universal common sense wisdom to knowledge. With patience we can claim our will power and elevate ourselves to the limits of our imagination. Without it, we will continue to be dominated by instinct, tradition, and or human dictators whose self-serving interests will predictably lead to the unleashing of our new weapons with ultimate destructive power!
In the next stren, I will be specific about how we acquire patience.