Selfishness, Patience & Gratitude

Being patient seems like a difficult characteristic to master for many of my friends.

I’ve been asked, “how do you stay so calm and patient?” It’s not some divine gift. Part of it comes from:

  • my mom (she’s one of the most patient people you’d meet) and,
  • school (Catholic grade school, high school, and college might help embed this idea)

But honestly, the biggest factor that makes me so patient is that I’m selfish when it comes to my health.

I selfishly guard my health

Living with a chronic illness like IBD makes good health a high priority for me. It’s basically the first filter I use when making most decisions.

How will ___________________________impact my health?

(insert going to a concert, playing golf, napping, getting angry in traffic, etc) 

When I filter life (or as much of it that I can control) through this lens I notice that I naturally tend to choose healthier habits. Yes, going out for drinks was fun when I was in college. But the fatigue, pain, or extra effort to recover just isn’t worth it now.

I know the good from the bad

Let’s stay with the drinking example here. In my mid-20s (before my diagnosis) I would agree to go out to clubs and bars with friends. Nothing wrong with that at all.

It was just that after a few years of this I began to feel like there was something wrong with me. I never really enjoyed those huge, loud clubs – the “pre-partying” with my friends was fun.

Patience = best practice

Being patient does not equal being a doormat or letting others walk all over me. It’s actually the opposite.

I’m patient because it is one of the best practices for my health. I’m patient because I’m focused on selfishly guarding and promoting my health.

I’m patient to promote my health.

If others enjoy that or see it as a positive characteristic then that’s icing on the cake.

What you can do today

  • Take a deep breath – give yourself this easy to do gift right now. Inhale through the nose, gently hold it, then release the air out your mouth. Do this again a few more times. Does that annoyance still seem worth it? Are you still upset by whatever it was that was bothering you earlier?
  • Practice gratitude – do you have eyes to read this post? Do you have hands, arms, legs? Are you able to work, pay bills, talk/spend time with another human being (in person or online)? Just having access to the interest is pretty amazing. Try to start finding the amazing events happening in your life right now and pretty quickly you’ll find yourself feeling more patient. Why get upset that some stranger on the freeway cut you off this morning! There are simply too many other far more amazing events happening to us right now.

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