Patience is the first and most indispensable response you can bring to an impulse.
There's a story about a monk training himself to be more aware of his impulses and less directed by them. It was tricky for him, as it is for all of us. He devised a simple strategy for prioritizing and elevating his patience when he felt an impulse.
Whenever he received a letter or correspondence from a friend or fellow monk, he set it aside without opening it. He wanted to open it and read the message but realized this, too, was an impulse. So he set the letter aside and continued his daily tasks and work.
The standard he set for himself was that he would only open a letter once he no longer felt a desire to open it. Days would pass, weeks sometimes before he opened some letters. He forced himself into patience until the impulse subsided. He waited to make a conscious and intentional decision to act until he was free from the grip of emotional desire.
It wasn't about the letters. It was about training his mind and strengthening the discipline of his patience to feel an urge without giving in to it.
I use this technique often when I feel an impulse. I picture the monk staring at the sealed letter, feeling the desire, and turning his attention away from the letter and back to his focus and purpose before the letter arrived. The stronger the impulse, the more I'm aware of my need to apply this technique.
Patience allows you to disengage from the immersive flood of urges accompanying an impulse. Not necessarily to deny the impulse entirely, but so you can better evaluate it outside the grip of its emotional influence. The monk realized he didn't need to open a letter when it arrived, even though he felt like it. An arriving letter offered a shiny distraction from his purpose in that day's effort. How many of these situations do we experience in a given day?
Patience is the gateway to better perspective and precision amid a strong impulse. When you respond to an urge with patience, you give yourself time and access to clearer thinking.
You can't make quality decisions if your perspective is limited and your precision is off-target. You can only improve your perspective and accuracy if you're willing to put patience between you and the impulses you feel.
The time is now. Do the work.
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