the OSI team
Scientists cannot explain why every person on the planet yawns—in most cases, several times a day. Even babies in the womb do it. So do hedgehogs, ostriches, snakes, and fish. There are lots of theories, often contradictory, but none satisfy all the researchers. Many scientists have proposed that an explanation for this gulp of air, lasting six seconds on average, is to augment the brain’s oxygen supply. Yet “so far, researchers haven’t found evidence supporting this suspicion,” says Science News. New studies on rats seem to suggest that “a yawn may be a thermostat, cooling an overheated brain.” But no one really knows.
the OSI team
IMAGINE this scenario: A man is driving on a two-lane road in a no-passing zone. The woman in the car in front of him is driving slightly under the maximum speed limit. To the impatient man, she seems to be driving far too slowly. After dangerously tailgating her vehicle for a few minutes, he loses all patience and passes her at a high rate of speed. In the process, he breaks the law and risks causing an accident.
What about the woman who does not have the patience to work with people who are not as fast or as smart as she is? Or the man who when waiting for an elevator keeps impatiently pushing the call button? Do you often become impatient with your elderly parents? Or are you a parent who quickly runs out of patience with your young children? Are you easily annoyed by the mistakes of others?
Everyone is likely to become impatient on occasion. But there may be serious consequences when bouts of impatience are an everyday occurrence.
For one thing, impatience is linked to frustration, irritation, and even anger. Such emotions can raise our stress level, which in turn can harm our health. A recent study published by the American Medical Association specifically pointed to impatience as a risk factor for hypertension, even among young adults.
There are other health problems associated with the lack of patience. A recent study revealed that impatience is linked to obesity. “The researchers found that impatient individuals are more likely to be obese than people who are good at waiting,” reports The Washington Post. In some areas, inexpensive fast food is easily available at all times of the day, and many impatient people cannot resist the temptation.
A study by the London-based Centre for Economic Policy Research found that impatient people are likely to be chronic procrastinators. Could it be that they feel compelled to postpone time-consuming tasks because they do not have the patience needed to bring the tasks to completion? At any rate, the tendency to postpone can have serious consequences for the procrastinator as well as for the economy. According to The Telegraph, a newspaper in Britain, researcher Ernesto Reuben stated that “procrastination seriously affects our productivity at work and can cost people considerable amounts of money as [impatient people] postpone paperwork indefinitely.”
Alcohol abuse and violence:
According to the British newspaperSouth Wales Echo, “people who are impatient are more likely to be involved in late-night drink-fueled violence.” Researchers at Cardiff University established this link after studying hundreds of men and women. The study revealed, says the Echo, that “impatient people were more likely to drink alcohol heavily and were prone to violence.”
A group of analysts working for the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., found that impatient people “often make quick, shallow choices.” Dr. Ilango Ponnuswami, professor and head of the Department of Social Work at the Bharathidasan University in India, reached a similar conclusion. He explains: “Impatience will cost you. It can cost you money, friendships, pain and suffering or any number of consequences simply because impatience is often followed by bad decisions.”
Impatience has been linked to “higher debt levels,” says Research Review, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, U.S.A. For instance, impatient newlyweds may want to have all the comforts of a home soon after the wedding, despite limited finances. So they buy the house, the furniture, the car, and everything else—on credit. This practice can harm the marriage. Researchers from the University of Arkansas, U.S.A., say that “newly married couples who bring debt into their marriage are less happy than couples who bring little or no debt into marriage.”
Some blame impatience for the recent economic crash in the United States. The financial magazine Forbes claims that “the state of the present market is the consequence of undue impatience combined with excessive greed. Impatience led many thousands of ordinary people to seek to acquire properties of much higher value than their savings justified. They thus sought to borrow collectively immense sums that they could not hope to repay for many years—and, in some cases, ever.”
Loss of friends:
Impatience can damage our ability to communicate. When a person does not have the patience to engage in meaningful conversation, he tends to speak without thinking. He may also get annoyed when others speak. Such a person does not have the patience to wait for others to get to the point of what they are saying. So the impatient listener may tend to rush others into finishing their sentences by putting words in their mouth or may try to find some other way to hurry the conversation.
Such impatience can result in the loss of friendships. Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, a mental-health professional quoted in the preceding article, explains: “Who wants to be with somebody who is tapping [his or her] toes all the time [or] looking at the watch all the time?” Yes, impatience is not a very attractive quality. It will drive your friends away.
These are just a few of the bad consequences that may result from impatience. So what can you do to avoid these consequences?
Simplify your life
According to Professor Noreen Herzfeld, who teaches computer science at Saint John’s University, in Minnesota, U.S.A., “people really can’t multitask. The brain cannot concentrate on several things simultaneously.” She adds: “Over time, multitasking erodes our ability to pay focused, close attention, and this eventually eats away at traits such as patience, tenacity, judgment, and problem solving.”
It is difficult to cultivate patience when you are stressed from having too many things to do, too many places to be, and too many people to stay in touch with. Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, mentioned earlier in this series, warns: “Fundamentally, stress is the cause of much of our impatient reactions.”
So, “slow down and smell the roses,” as the old adage says. Make time to enjoy life. Make time to establish deep friendships with a few people, rather than pursuing shallow friendships with a huge network of people. Budget your time, and set your priorities wisely. Beware of time-wasting hobbies and gadgets.
Have a realistic view of life. First of all, in real life, things do not always happen as fast as we wish. Accept the fact that time moves at the speed of time and not at the speed of your expectations. That is patience.
Instead of losing your patience over circumstances that are beyond your control, try to identify things that you can control. To illustrate, rather than getting angry over a delayed bus or train, try to find another way to get to your destination. Even walking might be better than giving in to impatience and anger. If waiting is the only option, use the time to do something productive, such as doing some meaningful reading or writing down your plans for future activities.
The reality of life is that it does little good to worry over things that you cannot control.
Live life! Enjoy life!
the OSI team
While art therapy is its own field, you can use the benefits of art to express your creative side and drawing skills to reduce stress and get in touch with your feelings. I think most of us knew this instinctively as kids: virtually all of us know the joys of sculpting something (with play-dough), painting something (with fingers), or drawing (with crayons and other materials). However, other than making random doodles in the margins of a page while you’re on killing time, if you’re like most adults, you don’t express yourself with art like you did as a kid.
Benefits of Art:
One of the reasons that clinical art therapy is effective is that the act of drawing and creating art can help you relieve stress in several ways. Here are some ways that creating art can alleviate stress:
Distraction: Drawing and art can take your mind off of what’s stressing you, at least for a few minutes. And when you’re finished being engrossed in your sketches, you should have a clearer head with which to tackle your problems again.
Flow: There’s a certain quality of being called “flow”, that experts say is very beneficial for us. This refers to a state of being completely engaged in something to the point of being in a near meditative state. It carries many of the benefits of meditation, leaving you much less stressed when you’re done. You can experience ‘flow’ when you’re doing creative activities like writing, and even gardening. You can also get it from drawing.
Self Care: Just the act of having a hobby can make you feel more balanced in your lifestyle. Sometimes with all of life’s responsibilities, we forget that we need and deserve ‘down time’ and self care. Taking even a few minutes on a regular basis to devote to a hobby can give you more of what you need in this area. And, with drawing, you have the additional benefit of being left with something beautiful (or at least interesting) to show for it!
Do-It-Yourself Art Therapy for Stress Relief
One of my favorite ways to use drawing for stress relief is to maintain a sketch diary. Keeping a sketchbook can be a form of journaling, and it can be cathartic, creative, and stress relieving. You can use a journal for personal art therapy and stress management in the following ways:
Sketch pictures that describe your feelings related to things in your life that are causing you stress currently. If it’s in the back of your mind anyway, this could be a way of processing your related emotions, reducing some of the stress they carry.
Sketch abstract pictures that express feelings related to past stressful experiences, as a way of processing your emotions and healing.
Keep a ‘Dream Sketch Diary’, and sketch scenes from dreams you’d like to remember or better understand.
Keep a sketch diary of what you think is beautiful in life. Draw the faces of those you love, places that bring you peace, or other pieces of beauty. The process of sketching can be a great stress reliever, and revisiting your creations can also bring you some peace in the future.
Additional Art Resources:
If you’re interested in trying out or develop a new hobby, there’s a great tutorial devoted to painting using watercolour as a medium, for people of all levels, including beginners. Check this out http://bit.ly/1jSe3zf for more details.
Thanks to Douglas Mitchell for this article.
A couple went on their honeymoon to a cottage in a peaceful and lovely mountain setting. Unfortunately, the peaceful atmosphere was upset by an annoying woodpecker, which kept pecking away on the roof of the cottage.
The young groom tried a number of times to chase the woodpecker away, but he kept coming back. The young couple decided to make the most of the situation and they named the bird, "Woody Woodpecker."
It just so happened that the young groom was a cartoonist and he decided to create a cartoon series about "Woody Woodpecker." The young man pitched the idea to a couple of Hollywood movie studios and met with rejection, and finally acceptance.
This young man, by the name of Walter Lantz, worked hard on creating the cartoon character named after that pesky woodpecker. For over sixty years, that loveable character entertained millions of people who have watched the star of his own cartoon series.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
How often does an annoyance in our lives turn into an opportunity for us? How often do we chase away the annoyances without stopping to really look at them? Is it possible that there are "Woody Woodpeckers" that present themselves to us, ready to be used to bring riches, enjoyments and pleasure to our self and others?
How would we identify one of those opportunities that presents itself to us? To answer that question, we can look to many of the products and services that we use and enjoy that arose out of some lack or annoyance in our lives. What about books that have been written by people who are attempting to heal some aspect of them self, and by writing about it have helped millions of others.
When faced with a recurring irritation in your life, take a moment to reflect upon how you might use this situation to your advantage. Name it, claim it, and use it to the benefit of yourself and others.
It is not what happens to us that is important. It is what we do with each situation in our life that matters.
Affirmation for the Week:
"I remain vigilant to opportunities, which come to me disguised as irritations. I tame each situation and make good use of it."
the OSI team
The circus elephant demonstrates what happens to us when we become tied to a habit. When an elephant is a baby, a strong chain is applied to one leg to keep it within a certain range. The baby elephant pulls against the chain, trying to escape, but is unable to do so. After many attempts, the baby elephant finally realizes that she will not be able to break the chain and so does not continue to pull at it.
As an adult, the elephant needs only to be restrained by a small chain that could be easily broken by the very strong elephant. However, she doesn't even try and remains within a limited circle. She has been fooled into thinking that she is limited to this small area and does not attempt to push beyond it.
This scenario demonstrates how we are restrained by our habits and limited thinking. When we meet resistance often enough, we begin to assume that our world is limited. Like the elephant, we are fooled into thinking that we are restricted to a certain lifestyle, because we have become accustomed to it.
Are you tied to old ideas and old thought processes? Do you believe that you must remain stuck in a confining, unsatisfying job merely because you have roped yourself into believing that you can't get promoted? Have you tied yourself up with the belief that this is all there is to life? Have you restricted yourself because you believe that as you get older, your body doesn't work as well as it used to?
Have you limited yourself in other ways, because your habitual thinking has imprisoned you in a cell with a window that only allows you to gaze upon a more desirable world? If so, do you really want to be confined to this very limited space, or do you want to advance to that which you desire?
It can be done! How? By recognizing that you are the one who accepted the restraints and you are the one who must remove them. It begins by asking yourself, "What do I really want and what am I willing to do about it?" If you feel resistant to making changes in your life, ask yourself what you will gain by remaining tied to the current circumstances. Then ask yourself how your life would change if you broke through the resistance and moved on to a different way of being or living.
Desire and imagination are the tools that will free us from an undesirable situation. This is the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
Affirmation for the Week:
"I break away from those chains that bind me to an unhappy situation in my life. I use the tools of desire and imagination to provide me with freedom from the prison of limited and habitual negative thinking. I am pulling up stakes and moving on to a better life and a more joy-filled situation."
the OSI team
Articles are prepared by the OSI community whose topic and background range from fields of psychology, education, and science.
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