August 23, 2020

The Virtue of Patience

Why are some people more prone to impatience relative to others? There are many reasons why the propensity for impatience could increase. Consider the processing speed capabilities of the mind. Imagine living in a world where all perceptions are in slow-motion. Our mental world is a representation of the external world. The mind is able to map and transform external stimuli. A slower version of our reality would then cause stimuli to be manipulated at a slower rate.

Suppose that we spend time in two distinct worlds: each world being faster or slower than our current world. Assume that the initial processing speed remains the same. The way we view the world seems continuous, but it behaves more like frames repeating at a extremely fast rate. As the external world picks up speed, the frame rate must increase to start the adaptation process. The rate that we adapt is directly proportional to the area that we inhabit and our ability to make sense of stimuli. Our ability to make sense of stimuli relates to the ability to organize external chaos. This process is never instantaneous because immaterial thoughts - like matter - must converge into a denser form. In other words, we must first convert initial confusion into understanding.

If the distinction between each world increases, then the process of adaptation takes more time. Our processing speed would gradually slow down in a slow-paced world and conversely, speeds up in the fast-paced world. The main difference is that chaos increases anxiety whereas order creates relaxation. Everyone has a unique limit that dictates when stimuli becomes chaotic. Unknwown and mentally draining environments may seem chaotic because our mind must first organize a surge of new stimuli. Fearing the unknown would only escalate this issue.

If we adapt to a world that flows in slow-motion, then life becomes relatively chaotic once we transfer to a faster paced world. It will take much longer to adapt if the range between each speed is larger. This is analogous to placing a society that values relaxation in this technologically advanced and anxiety-promoting world.

You may ask, how does this apply to the concept of patience? Processing speed has a large impact on our ability to contain initiative or a drive for action. If we are so used to achieving a wide variety of goals in a short period, then it becomes increasingly intolerable when obstacles slow our progression. The reward which we recieve by achieving goals is not static. It would not make sense if this were so because our drive to progress would be hindered.

The reward that we recieve from a reletively equivalent output is dampened over time so that we seek novelty. A similar goal will not feed us as much as a distinctive goal. Based on these premises, our reward signaling would greatly dimish if the external environment slows down relative to us. This has the propensity to initate an emotional reaction such as impatience.

Notice that East Asian cultures who highly valued patience were commonly practicing meditation or mindfulness. This allows the mind to transition from a state of complexity to a state of simplicity. A fast paced world is far more complex for the mind to handle than a steady-paced world.

Simplicity is part of the equation for eliminating impatience. The stoics were also highly esteemed of the virtue of patience because we cannot control many aspects of our life. Therefore, a stoic attempts to repress any emotional reaction such as impatience - an emotion that connects to our desire to accomplish a task in a desired time frame.

Impatience affects introverts and extroverts for different reasons. For instance, an introvert spends more time internalizing external stimuli whereas an extrovert externalizes internal drives. An extrovert would seem more confident in an external environment because energy is expressed outwardly. An introvert seems more confident within the internal framework of the mind. Everyone displays a certain distribution of introverted and extroverted traits; however, we all lean more favorably to one side or the other.

Since introverts spend a great deal of time within their internal world, impatience is often expressed internally. If someone abruptly interrupts an introvert, it can greatly sidetrack the mind from solving a difficult problem. This can create impatience due to an internal hindrance. Because extroverts excel at manipulating the external world, it follows that impatience relates to the hindrance of an external goal.

We are all prone to bouts of impatience. The key dampening agent is awareness, acceptance, and contentment. Awareness helps hinder the impulse that is driven by an immediate slow-down of the external world. Acceptance helps us tolerate differences. Contentment shapes the mind-set so that we become more resistant to external triggers.