Virginia Buckingham
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A member of the Marblehead Current’s Board of Directors, Virginia Buckingham is the former chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Port Authority, chief of staff to two Massachusetts governors, deputy editorial page editor for the Boston Herald and author of “On My Watch: A Memoir.” 

We all know there are global supply issues holding up the delivery of everything from furniture to computer chips, but who knew that a ship-full of patience was stuck somewhere out at sea.

At least it seems that way, if the fraught drivers on main streets and in parking lots of malls and grocery stores are any indication.

I know my patience in these final, frantic holiday and year-end-everything-must-get-done-now days is sorely lacking and I suspect I’m not the only one. 

It’s not just the jam-packed holiday to-do list at fault. Our technology-enabled instant gratification culture has done plenty to make even the most patient saints amongst us in a hurry to gratify and satisfy. 

What I didn’t know is that patience can be cultivated, like plants in a garden.  While patience is in short supply, tips for developing it are endless, if you search for them on the Web. I’ll summarize the top tips I recently found. 

First, though, let’s agree on which kind of patience we want to cultivate, now, right now, before that guy steals our parking spot. It turns out there are at least three kinds of patience—interpersonal patience, life hardship patience, and daily hassles patience.

The first, the kind you need to have when your spouse forgets, again, to bring the trash cans in, is self-evident. The second, also known as perseverance, is how you get through hard times. It’s the third I’ll focus on here—daily hassles patience. Put more academically, it is the kind of patience which allows us to develop “the capacity to tolerate the discomfort that arises when things aren’t as we’d like them to be,” according to one mindfulness website.

Apparently, this kind of patience is readily cultivatable! Or so says clinical psychologist Scott Beam, Psy.D., in an article featured by the eminent Cleveland Clinic. “It’s kind of like dancing,” he said. “Some people are naturally better at it than others, but everyone can improve with practice.”

Here is a sample of tips I found with some of my non-academic color commentary.

  • Stop multi-tasking (HAHAHAHAHAHHA)
  • Use a time-management tool (i.e., something more advanced than the alarm I set on my phone to go off five minutes before every scheduled meeting.) 
  • Eat healthy (I feel like that tip is on every “be a better human” list, but sure.)
  • Choose slow (Is that an actual choice?)

I felt my neck muscles tightening as I scrolled through more tips, while simultaneously checking texts on my phone. Then I found these sort of more do-able ideas:

  • Fake it ‘til you make it.  Pretending you are patient makes you feel more patient. (I can do that!)
  • Increase your tolerance for waiting by waiting longer (Hmmm, choose the longer line at CVS?)
  • Delay gratification by putting your online selections in a shopping cart to review later. (Defeats the point of Amazon Prime but sure.)
  • Regularly unclench your fists and/or teeth, and relax your shoulders (Your dentist and chiropractor will thank you.)
  • Be playful, don’t take yourself—or your unfinished tasks—too seriously.

Ah, I totally can embrace that last one. So, in that spirit, please see the very first, inaugural, one of a kind, “everything will be okay” Patience BINGO game, in print, and also linked here

We will play the “coverall” version.  When you do one of the items listed in the squares in the stressful, I mean, festive days ahead, “X” it out on the card.  When you’ve filled the entire card, yell BINGO as loud as you can, even if, especially if, you are in a public place.

Then laugh out loud, again (If you’ve filled the card, you have already done that at least once.) I promise you’ll feel more patient than you really are.  If not, then I guess you can try improving your dancing. Wishing you happy, and patient, holidays.

Virginia Buckingham is a regular columnist for the Marblehead Current and a member of its board of directors.

Your game card for ‘Patience BINGO’

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