The holiday season is upon us once again, and the feeling of celebration is already in the air. It’s an exciting time filled with get-togethers, family vacations, anticipation of a New Year, and more than ever a time to practice “patience”. Stores are packed, lines are long, roads are crowded, and there is so much to get done to prepare for the holidays. Ah… patience… not easy to come by in our fast paced world of instant everything and tight schedules. It’s been said “patience is a virtue” but definitely a challenge to practice when situations don’t go our way. Who doesn’t get frustrated while waiting in a slow moving line, during an extended wait at the doctor’s office, or even a slow moving internet? We live in a world of conveniences to minimize our wait time. There is EZ-pass on the road, self-checkout at most grocery stores, and easy access to anything online for immediate service just a click away. It’s understandable why our tolerance for waiting is quite limited, no matter what the season.
That however does not negate the fact that having patience is really good for us. Having patience is the ability to tolerate waiting while staying calm and composed. Patience makes us happier and healthier. It helps us build empathy toward others and see beyond ourselves. Patience gives us a better relationship with others. Patience allows us to take a step back and listen with compassion and an open mind. Impatience and a quickness to get irritated and angry create a stress that is not good for our health. It hurts us and those around us. If only we could take a deep breathe and put things into perspective when caught in a situation of waiting. Judith Orloff, MD, says that “patience doesn’t mean passivity or resignation, but power. It’s an emotionally freeing practice of waiting, watching, and knowing when to act. It’s emotional freedom”.
Campers seem to have an understanding of just how beneficial having patience can be. Learning to wait, take turns, and tolerate interruptions are important elements of developing patience, and lessons we put into practice every day at camp. Camp is the perfect setting to learn patience. Living with others, and the many personalities that make up the bunk, takes patience. Campers learn to accept one another’s differences and appreciate what each friend brings to the group dynamic. Campers learn patience by waiting their turn for the shower, in line to order their favorite treat at canteen, for their turn on the zip line or waterskiing, to make their scheduled phone call home, or even for their group to perform at the talent show. Camp is a group effort and patience for one another creates a more cohesive unit. Through everyday activities, campers learn to be more tolerant, more compassionate and more empathic as they learn patience.
Patience learned at camp allows us to have better relationships and experiences all year long. So this holiday season, remember to stay composed when the wait is slow and taking longer than you anticipated, and when the people you are dealing with are not as efficient as you would expect. The stores will be crowded and the roads will be busy. Pass the time more productively and calmly by chatting with the person in front of you or listening to the radio. The time will go by faster, you will have a greater sense of calm, and the people around you will appreciate it as well.