I take the train to and from Manhattan every Monday and Thursday. Typically I go home to Maryland on the weekends, but this Thursday I headed to Rhode Island to visit my cousins.
I left my office on the Upper East Side a little late and got on the subway at 5:11; according to my e-Ticket, the train left at 5:42 from New York Penn Station.
I started out anxious. I rushed from my office to the subway. Once I got seated, the train didn’t move and I felt the need to look at my watch every few minutes to assess whether or not I was going to make it.
After 3 or 4 peeks, I decided I was going to test my patience.
I actively made the decision to not look at the time until I was in the train station. I acknowledged I wasn’t going to get there any faster if I looked at my watch or not, so I decided to read. I found my anxious mind begin to be occupied, and then interested. I could feel the unjustified obsession with something out of my control, slowly slip away.
Despite the very real chance I was not going to be onboard my train upon its departure, my energy had made the transition from negative to positive; and it was all because of a choice I made.
My concentrated calmness lasted. I didn’t run through the streets once off the subway. I didn’t jay walk when the crosswalk countdown hit 0 right in front of me. I moved purposefully and got to the station right on time: 5:42.
My train had left.
After chatting with the ticket lady, it turns out my e-ticket was wrong; the departure time had been moved to 5:38.
So, even if I had rushed, I would have missed my train, no matter what.
While inconvenient, this experience was rewarding. I felt good that I practiced concentrated calmness through it all. I tested some attributes of my mental strength that were questionable and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
Typically, I would be anxious and angry in response to missing the train. However, this time I didn’t feel frustrated; I felt enlightened and energized.
In fact, my moral was so unperturbed by the event, I used the extra time before the next train to enjoy dinner and write the first draft of this article. Talk about a different outcome, than if I allowed myself to be irritated.
So what are some lessons learned from this test of patience?
So, next time you’re in a rush or feeling anxious, remember two things: