This Simple Trick Helped Me Solve My Impatience For Good


I have four kids, and my oldest —she’s 8 — recently performed in a holiday recital at her school. There were probably about 500 parents in the audience. I was there with my three other children and picked one up to hold. This made my five-year-old son jealous. To get my attention, he started trying to climb me. As he’s trying to climb me — he weighs about 40 pounds — he accidentally pulls my pants down and starts laughing. There I was in front of all these other people with my pants down.

It would have been easy to get annoyed or angry in that situation. But what I’ve been working on and trying to remember is that I don’t want to give my kids a childhood they’ll have to recover from. Even though I was angry and embarrassed, yelling at my kid in front of these people wouldn’t serve that purpose. So, I just laughed it off. I think I said, ‘Okay, man. I get your point.’ I’m hoping it’s not one of those lessons I’ll have to reinforce again and again. But I had the patience to take a breath stay calm and tell myself that getting upset wouldn’t be good.

“Working On It” is a regular series about self-improvement. In each installment, a dad talks about a bad habit he has, how it affects him and his family, and what he’s doing to work on it. Here, Terry, a father of four and a business development consultant and startup mentor discusses his struggle with impatience and how meditation and journaling recently helped him turn what could’ve been an embarrassing situation into a moment of empathy, understanding, and pride.

The whole experience was a roller coaster of emotions. The first was definitely shock. Then embarrassment and humiliation. Then anger, because my son was laughing about it. But then I became calm and collected. My mind went to, How can I make this a teachable moment? pretty quickly, which I was proud of. I thought How great it would be if the next time he gets embarrassed, he thinks back to this situation and says, “You know what? There was that one time I pulled my dad’s pants down in front of everyone and he was as cool as a cucumber. Maybe that’s how I should handle this.

My dad influenced my reaction a lot, too. When I was around the same age as my son, I remember my dad and I were playing baseball in the backyard. He told me to throw the ball higher, and I threw it so high that it went through a second story window. He didn’t yell or get angry. He just looked up and said, “Not that high.”

The gratitude builds up over time. So, when things like getting your pants pulled down at a recital happen, you have this stockpile of gratitude and positivity to fall back on.

I remember being confused, thinking how is this guy this cool in this moment? That was like 40 years ago, and I’ve been waiting for a moment like that to test me. I guess this was it. What’s done is done, but your reaction is all in your control.

I’ve been meditating and journaling for a while now, and I know they helped me in this situation. I meditate for about 10 minutes each day. And thing I’ve learned about mindfulness is that you can also be practicing it constantly, just with your thoughts and actions daily.

Journaling takes a little more time. Every night, I write down a gratitude list with my wins for the day and stuff like that. I also write down one specific thing about each of my family members. And I re-read it the morning after. That helps me reflect on all the great things they’ve done that day, and it makes me appreciate them more.

The gratitude builds up over time. So, when things like getting your pants pulled down at a recital happen, you have this stockpile of gratitude and positivity to fall back on.

Getting my pants pulled down in front of a crowd wasn’t ideal, obviously, but it was a moment of welcome recognition and affirmation that my mindfulness practice has been working. It was an unexpected test, and I feel like I passed. Like I’d evolved as an individual, and as a father. If you ask me what I’m proud of from 2023, I’d say this moment.

My brother passed away recently. That’s really what shook me into concentrating more on mindfulness. I used to be impatient. Extremely impatient. And I can’t tell you what I was in a hurry for. I genuinely couldn’t answer that question. I was just always ready for the next thing, then the next thing, then the next thing. I was always telling myself, Hurry up and brush your teeth! Hurry up and do this! Hurry up and do that!

I used to be impatient. Extremely impatient. And I can’t tell you what I was in a hurry for… I was just always ready for the next thing, then the next thing, then the next thing.

Putting my kids to bed at night is a perfect example. I used to think, Hurry up and go to bed, kid, so I can go live my life. Now I’m able to enjoy the moment, and the little things, like the feeling of rubbing my son’s back while he falls asleep. I’ve started to notice that he’s getting bigger because it feels different some nights. The process takes longer, but I’m enjoying the moments between the moments, instead of rushing to whatever’s next. Everyone has noticed the change in my mood and how I act day-to-day. And it’s been a change for the better.

Moving forward, I’m beginning to teach my kids about mindfulness and, really, trying to involve the whole family. I’m teaching my kids about breathing and distracting themselves from getting upset. Most importantly, I’m modeling the behaviors myself. The night of the pants incident, in my journal, I wrote: “I’m so glad that Tyson pulled my pants down today because it gave me an opportunity to practice the patience, the grace, and the empathy that my father showed to me when I was a boy. I’ll never forget it.”



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