It’s true what they say, patience is a virtue. It’s an essential component to success, happiness and inner peace. The problem is, we can get things almost instantly nowadays and this breeds impatience. Impatience is one of the biggest generators of stress. A lack of patience usually results in anger, irritation, and/or frustration – all feelings that cause the mind and body to suffer. I, for one, have never been the most patient person. I walk fast, eat fast, work fast, think fast – I just do things fast. I’d like to say it’s because I’m efficient but in reality I just lack patience at times. And in certain situations this has been extremely beneficial. For example, I typically finish projects way ahead of schedule and have been able to make time-sensitive decisions quickly. But when it comes to other activities where there is no advantage in rushing, a lack of patience has caused me a lot of unnecessary stress. As a result, it has become something that I constantly work on improving. A lack of patience not only speeds your actions up but it also speeds your mind up. Rushing through thoughts and acting impulsively can be a recipe for disaster. It also causes large amounts of emotional and mental energy to be drained from you. Without patience, you will be ridden with anxiety and stress over future events, and usually for no good reason.
Patience is not the act of waiting, but how you act while you’re waiting. Do you want to spend your time waiting feeling anxious and stressed? Or would you rather spend the time happy and at peace? I’m guessing you’d go with the latter. This, of course, is easier said than done and it takes some time to train yourself to do so. By being more patient, you allow yourself time to think, time to review and time weigh your options. It gives you the space and time to do things more diligently. It also allows you to enjoy life and live in the moment instead of always looking for what’s next. The truth is everything in your life occurs at the exact right time, and no sooner. That thought is as comforting as it is aggravating. Uncertainty is a hard thing to swallow, but practicing patience makes it much easier. If you are enjoying the wait time, you won’t care how long that wait time is. Here are some ways to improve your patience.
- Recognize when you are impatient
Self-awareness is the first step to finding patience. It’s important to understand what situations bring out the impatience in you. Think about the times where you feel extremely irritated and anxious. Does waiting in traffic annoy you like no other? Do you hate walking behind slow people? Are you irritated when someone shows up late? Figure out the instances that cause your impatience to come out most. When those times occur, take note of how you’re feeling. Recognize the tension, irritation, frustration and negative vibes that come about. Examine how they make your body feel. Notice how strongly the situation has changed your mood. A lot of the times we don’t even realize when we are being impatient and what it does to us. This awareness will allow you to understand how draining a lack of patience can be. Once you start noticing the things that bring the worst out of you, you will be able to make a change for the better.
- Think rationally
Most of the time our impatience is absolutely unnecessary. We get all worked up over things we have no control over. The only things you are guaranteed to be able to control in life is yourself and your mindset. So instead of trying to change the situation you are in, work on changing the way you are viewing the situation. Talk yourself through those moments that cause impatience. Ask yourself whether stressing over it or being anxious about it helps. 9 time out of 10 it doesn’t. Rationalize the situation to yourself. For example, maybe you are waiting to have lunch with your friend but they are late. Instead of becoming irritated, think of the reasons that they might be behind schedule. Maybe they had car trouble or traffic was bad. Also, ask yourself what is the consequences of them being late. What’s the worst that can happen as a result of this? Maybe you have to wait an extra 15 minutes to eat. Not the worst thing in the world. Using this type of “self-talk” can relieve much of the anxiety in waiting. There’s no use feeding into the negative feelings of impatience and you have to remind yourself of that.
- Let go of expectations
All impatience stems from expectations. We expect certain things to occur at certain times and when they don’t, we are disappointed. A lot of times our expectations are simply unrealistic. We often expect things to happen the way we want them to, but unfortunately that’s not the way life works. This is something we tend to have a hard time accepting. The goal is to let go of these set expectations we have. Instead of becoming frustrated with certain things not meeting our expectations, we must adjust the expectations themselves. Understand that life happens on it’s own time, regardless of what you want to happen. Don’t burden yourself with unnecessary expectations and let the chips fall where they may. Accept the events of life as they come to you, do not chase them. Embrace the uncertainty, as the future will likely turn out better than expected when you are practicing patience.
- Practice with the little things
Start practicing patience in the small situations in life, such as walking, eating and conversing. Once you are able to become patient in these aspects, it will relay to the larger areas of life. Make being patient a personal characteristic. Make it a part of who you are. Once it becomes a habit, you won’t have to think twice about it. When you’re walking, driving, eating or conversing take your time. Slow down and enjoy the activity. Instead of rushing to your destination, appreciate the views of the trip. Don’t get so caught up with getting to where you need to go that you forget to recognize the simple beauty around you. Take deep breaths and count to 10 when you feel impatience arising. Instead of focusing on the things you are waiting for, focus your thoughts elsewhere. Work on releasing the tension from your mind and body in these situations.
- Be mindful
Everything always seems to come back to mindfulness! This immensely beneficial practice is a surefire way to be more patient. By being mindful you are living in the moment and truly enjoying the now. There are various ways to do this. Meditation is a good way to adopt mindfulness into your life. Work on keeping your thoughts in the present moment and avoid unnecessary thoughts of the future or past. Whenever your mind leads you to anxiety-producing thoughts, acknowledge the drift and return to the moment you are currently living in. For more information on mindfulness, check out this piece.
- Stay busy
When it comes to the bigger things you are waiting for in life, it can seem like the wait is never ending. Instead of spending all your time thinking about it, do something to take your mind off of it. Pick up a new hobby or learn a new skill. Get engulfed with something that takes up your time. Start a new book and every time you feel your thoughts wander to the cause of your impatience, read instead. Try writing. Sometimes getting all those emotions on paper can help to release some of the tension. Hangout with friends, get a side job, start exercising more. Find things that are more beneficial of your time than worrying. Being impatient is a waste of time. The time is going to pass at the same rate regardless of how you feel, so you might as well enjoy it. Make the most of the time you have for it is our most valuable, yet limited, resource.
Work on being patient every day and pretty soon you will feel the benefits. You deserve happiness and peace, don’t deprive yourself of it! Enjoy every step of the journey and avoid always focusing on what’s ahead. The truth is life is short and you never know when you’re time is up, so appreciate every single second.