As I enter my 20’s, I’m beginning to look internally to explore opportunities for self-growth. This can be an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience, especially when forced to come to terms with some of my shortcomings. But at the same time, it seems beneficial to develop a sense of awareness, so that I can begin to work toward changing my behaviors. My journey of self-awareness often leads me to a troubling, recurring theme: a distinct lack of patience. The root cause of this shortcoming appears to begin and end with my cell phone. Given the increasing level of digital media saturation and accessibility, I have become accustomed to expect instantaneity. As a result, I have, in every sense of the term, lost my patience.
At the tip of my fingers, I can exchange texts and hear about a friend’s day, look at a picture of my cousin across the country, or order something I hardly need from Amazon in less than 60 seconds. Any time I send a text, post a picture on Instagram, or order something online, I am satisfying my constant craving for instant gratification. Why practice patience when the world we live in doesn’t reward it? As a result, I find myself feeling impatient when confronted with trivial inconveniences that impact a minor part of my day, such as having to wait in line, or when a significant other fails to respond to a text in a “timely” manner.
As I (shamelessly) sit in my bed watching an episode of Gilmore Girls, it occurs to me that Rory only got to talk to Dean every few nights on the phone. My mom shares stories of waiting for the phone to ring after a date, and my cousin in the Navy and his wife can only exchange an email every few weeks when he ships out to sea for months. Times like these provide perspective when I feel that the smallest inconvenience is causing my world to crumble. Just the other day, I found myself waiting in line to get on the bus. Hot and sticky from the city in Boston and in no mood to stand in line for 45 minutes, I took a moment to remind myself of my mom and cousin, and remember that some aspects of life simply do not allow for an instantaneous resolution.
While my impatience might be the unfortunate consequence of media and modern technology, I know full well that behavioral modifications can also change outcomes. Specific to my smartphone, here are some things I try to practice to improve my patience and detach from my phone:
Out of sight, out of mind. Put my phone in a drawer and practice detaching from instant gratification.
Sleep on it. If I catch myself wanting to impulsively buy something online, or just want something instantaneously, I sleep on it, and reconsider in the morning.
Everything in moderation. Consider designating a few specific times of the day to indulge in unproductive surfing.
Limit media multitasking. When I choose to watch TV, work on my computer, or check my phone, I try not to be tempted to do two or three of these things at the same time. The brain needs to continually exercise its ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Our generation might be more accustomed to multitasking, but each task is usually not being completed as effectively as when we only do one at a time.
-edited by Sarah Wolfson