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  • Writer's pictureTracey Lee

O and P

Optimism and Patience

Sounds easy? But both have some challenges.

Some people are genuinely mistrustful of optimists. They seem to think the cheery, hopeful demeanour is a cover-up or misguided or possibly a tiny bit delusional. But real optimism is about hopefulness about what is ahead not just blithe happiness. It is seeing that what we endeavour to do will have a positive outcome, will be worthwhile and desirable. I can think of nothing more miserable and demotivating that commencing a project with the burdensome believe that it will all go to hell in a handbag. Those folks who are always on the ‘it will never work’ campaign are probably right on many occasions but the defeatist attitude of expected failure means we might as well all give up trying anything.

And optimism isn’t a fluffy, magical experience. Optimism is about having the courage and strength to work at a thing until it succeeds, or we take the opportunity to learn from the experience if it doesn’t. The optimist isn’t given a guarantee that every venture, every attempt or every enterprise will be a winner. But to commence with a modicum of positivity makes the journey so much sweeter. I have always found the crowd that sits away from the action criticising every move, dooming the process with their gloominess and hacking into every glimmer of goodness to be the most exhausting of humans. I’d take the glass half full every time over the ‘never enough’ spruikers.

And I’m not a natural optimist. I am an A grade worrier. I see the pit falls before there’s even talk of movement. But I have seen what a bit of optimism can do for an individual who is wavering at the starting line. I’ve said this to many students, and I say it to myself frequently…what is there to lose by trying? What might be gained if you start? Optimism is a form of courage. It is worth practising as often as possible. It is worth insisting that we ensure the foundation of all our undertakings, personal and professional, local and global start with some hope and good will for advantageous outcomes.

I'm not interested in blind optimism, but I'm very interested in optimism that is hard-won, that takes on darkness and then says, 'This is not enough.' Colum McCann

Be patient, just wait. All good things come to those who wait…etc etc. Some see patience as just the delay of gratification but it is actually a superpower emotion. It is about endurance in the face of complexity and difficulty. It requires perseverance when obstacles and delays occur. There must be acceptance of those who provoke, criticise and hurt without responding with anger. And it means that sometimes we just have to keep our mouths firmly closed.

And wait…

I think in current practice, patience is seen as weakness or inaction. The quiet thinker who waits for the right time, or gives time for ideas to unfold is seen as a bit of a loser. The patient are seen as weak because they don’t talk over the top of others, they wait their turn to say their piece. They don’t rush to conclusions with 2% of the information and little interest in the potential of the other 98% of ideas. They don’t rush to judgement, or anger…they wait to respond. And when armed with information, balance, compassion and courage they speak and act.

We need more patient people. The impatient are not our friends. Not in relationships, not in government, not in queues and especially not on the road. Patience relies on calmness, resilience, the acceptance of not always having to be first and being okay with giving up your spot in the mad rush. Impatience is the consequence of fear and anger. Those emotions just create more frustration and chaos.

I do not in any way equate patience with inaction or a lack of ambition. And I’d say to the critics, beware the patient person, they may seem impassive but they are usually waiting for the right moment to make their presence felt. They could in fact be plotting! Afterall, revenge is a dish best served cold…

To lose patience is to lose the battle. Mahatma Gandhi

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