Dr. Rich Patterson

Patience & Gratitude = Latitude

Today I want to write to you about teaching our kids patience and gratitude.  So often we come to expect certain conventions, certain things to happen because they always have, or because we want them to happen.  But what happens when they don’t happen?  Do we get angry, do we show our impatience?  Maybe we even get mad enough to throw some insults towards others because something didn’t go our way.  What if we turned the time table back 100 years or even 200 years?  What if those citizens were able to see what we do have today and express their amazement at the things we get to do?  What if they could see the things we get angry about in comparison to what they have?  I am thinking they would be embarrassed by our behavior, even surprised by the things that irritate us.

Teaching our kids patience and gratitude give them latitude.  I’m thinking of latitude as giving us freedom of thought and action.  When we think in terms of being patient and grateful then we allow others to be themselves.  We watch them, in a sense, from a distance and see their behaviors as incomplete, undesirable.  Often, I like to think of it as being suspended in time, and a parade goes by with the very behaviors of impatience and ungratefulness that can be irritating to me.  I allow them to go on by and watch them disappear in the distance and then I can move on with my pace.  I think there isn’t any better example of this than driving.  If you’re headed into some construction area, a lane is closed in a mile or so, and everyone can read the sign but they pass you trying to cut in front of you and others in an effort to gain a better place in line.  No one gets there any sooner, but it is frustrating.  It requires that we suspend our reaction a bit and think patience, watch them get all worked up and push themselves in front of others.  While that is going on you can think, “I’m glad that I’m not like that right now.”

The same is true with gratitude.  When we are grateful we have a peace about us.  We lose our expectations of things, which is what really causes many of our problems in the first place.  We think of how things should have gone, how someone should have behaved, or how someone should be driving.  Then we lose our place in terms of latitude.  Our own thinking and actions begin to mirror those around us, when in fact we want just the opposite.

Help your kids to understand how patience and gratitude for what they have and where they are, regardless of circumstances would look like a million bucks to someone 100 years ago.  If we think about it, some of our worst days would still look fabulous to them in light of their more grim circumstances.  It is then that we have a freedom to think clearly and we can take action in accordance with our true goals for our self.

I hope you enjoy this . . .

Rich