So there you are in line at the grocery store or the hardware store or the bank. It could be anyplace really. You could be on hold waiting for a customer service representative or waiting for a meeting to begin. You have time on your hands, what do you do with that time?
What time, you ask? You really do not plan on being in line or on hold or waiting for more than five minutes. It’s not a large block of time. What difference can it make? The difference it makes depends on how you spend that time. Do you:
- Spend it being annoyed that you have to wait?
- Spend it becoming perturbed because someone in front of you is taking too long?
- Spend it being critical about the children in front of you who are (according to you) misbehaving?
- Spend it reviewing the front covers of gossip magazines?
If you are doing any of the above or something similar, you are wasting time. I am not suggesting you multitask. I am not going to propose that you use this time to make phone calls or balance your checkbook or write notes. I am going to propose that you do something more constructive with your time than engage in negative thinking.
The time you spend being angry because you are waiting is time you could have spent on something more positive. It is not just the five minutes you spend waiting, it is the residual anger you carry with you from that episode. It may also be the impact you have on others if you express your annoyance. You waste your time and you waste the time of those around you. Instead of being angry or passing judgment on poorly behaved children or reading about some celebrity’s divorce you could:
- Pray or meditate if either of those are part of your tradition
- Smile at those misbehaving children and see if you can distract them
- Send thoughts of compassion to people who are going through a difficult time
- Find something that you admire about someone around you and pay them a compliment
- Concentrate on something you look forward to or that you recently enjoyed
- Think about someone you love and plan a small surprise for them
If you replace any angry, judgmental or negative thought that you have while you are waiting with a positive thought or wish you are making good use of your time. Remember those five minutes you spend waiting are not coming back to you, so stop wasting time.