Waiting is a skill. This concept was first introduced to me in Hermann Hesse’s book “Siddhartha”, which is one of my all-time favorite books.
Most problems tend to go away with time, so you just need to wait them out. A lot of dreams do just “come true” as well.
Look around where you are. There is a strong possibility that you once dreamed of many of the material things you have around you. And if “dream” is a strong word, you at least wanted and perhaps were excited to finally get these things.
Apart from material goods, critical situations and events also follow this pattern. Perhaps you’re in a current job that you had wished for years you could get, and you are finally here. Or you’re living in the country that you had always wanted to visit when you were a student. Perhaps you’re dating or are married. At some point in the past, you had a desire to be with this person, and now you are.
All it took was waiting, and many of these things came true.
The flip side of this idea is not to encourage laziness or inaction, but simply not to expect instant results in anything that you do.
Waiting also implies self-assurance and a sound mind. I had an 11.5-hour flight from Bangkok to Munich today, and I set myself the goal of not watching a single movie. I gave myself three options: reading a book, sleeping, and thinking.
This meant that I “felt” the 11.5 hours far more than some of the other similar flights that I have taken in my life because I was more present, and so I had to experience the act of waiting while sitting on the airplane for more than before, where I would get lost in a movie or a series on the in-flight entertainment.
It also helped that I was reading a history book called “Tower of Skulls”, which deals with the Asia-Pacific war. Hearing the stories of the Japanese invasion of China puts any slight discomfort I have sitting on the plane into perspective. In fact, it puts my entire life in perspective, and I realize how lucky I am not only to have been born in one of the wealthiest parts of the world, but also in a time where large-scale war is something that has not happened for several generations.
The ability to just sit down and not do much it’s more complicated than it looks. This is especially true in the era of smartphones and constant connectivity. We find it far more difficult to not get a hit of dopamine from a notification or interaction because we have conditioned ourselves for years on being constantly distracted.
But, it is in the times of quiet and self-reflection when you can truly think, and this is where we can change our lives.
Sam Harris in his app Waking Up, constantly stresses the fact that eventually, there should be slight difference between the practice of meditation and everyday life. Because every waking moment is an opportunity to be mindful of our surroundings, of our experience, and that boredom is just a lack of attention.
I am of the honest opinion that everything can be incredibly interesting as long as you get deep enough into it. I have noticed this, especially with my work at Mäd, where we provide consulting services to a diverse client base across numerous industries. In many cases, these are not companies that I would consider joining as a full-time employee, but it is still exciting work, even if the apparent subject matter is not particularly inspiring. Optimizing pizza sales or loans to farmers in third-world countries is nobody’s ambition.
But, when we are given a very specific subset of problems, we realize that there is always a better way to do things, and then working away to achieve and turn it into reality can be very interesting, as long as enough depth and attention are focussed on it.