Practicing patience makes you great at 9 other life skills — and might make you happier as well.
Patience is better than ice cream (who ever has enough ice cream?) because you won’t get the “brain freeze” headache or gain the weight from indulging in too much patience. Having a liberal helping of patience creates a net positive. In addition to being talented at waiting, patience requires that you master nine surprisingly beneficial behaviors:
#1 Be in the current moment.
This one. Right now. That’s it.
Give up worrying about the future and what’s likely put on hold while you are attempting to be patient. Stop catastrophizing about what you thought you needed to do or where you wanted to go. Staying in the moment will keep you from becoming frustrated and straining what patience you have managed to conjure up.
#2 Act in a non-judgmental manner.
Who appointed you judge and jury anyway? Oh I see; you did.
Remaining peaceful instead of judging or blaming keeps feelings like annoyance or anger at bay. Negative energy and feelings not only encroach on your ability to be patient but they are also unhealthy — mainly for you, but also for the person who is triggering your temper.
#3 Show compassion.
Even if you don’t typically do so, reach down and see if you can find any. Need a flashlight?
Put yourself in the shoes of the person “testing” your patience. Often we don’t know the situation or what they are experiencing. Assuming they have encountered difficulty will encourage your empathy for them. People typically aren’t incredibly incompetent or out to intentionally create conflict. Feel grateful for how smoothly your life typically tends to be!
#4 Engage in some form of meditation.
If you have no idea what or where your chakras are, simple relaxed breathing works well.
If this is the first time all day you have had some down time this can be cause for celebration. Grab the opportunity to go inside yourself and feel centered.
#5 Look for the humor.
Come on, let’s see you smile… even if it’s a rare occurrence.
Many of us take life very seriously. Remembering to laugh is a great way to approach trying situations. There is often a funny side to events, particularly once we create some distance from the weighty obstacle or issue at hand. (Emotional distance works too.)
#6 Problem solve.
Put on your thinking hat when a snafu threatens to swallow your energy or time.
Giving thought to a work around (what to do while waiting or bumping things off your task list) can make all the difference. It also keeps your grey matter engaged, and nimble, which might save you from having to develop more patience as you get older and your thought process slows.
#7 Become more social.
Odds are you have been interacting primarily with technology for hours on end which might have already tried your patience.
This might be a good time to chat with others impacted by the patience-trying event. Bonding over a shared experience can be welcome, given our increasingly isolated lives. Maybe you’ll enjoy talking with a person. Give it a try.
#8 Put on your storytelling hat.
There may be good material here to save for later. File details away to grab the stage and entertain friends, family or co-workers. Why not give others a chance to laugh over life’s speed bumps?
#9 Take a hike.
It is definitely a better form of exercise and burns more calories than just tapping one foot while standing with your arms crossed and that grumpy scowl on your face.
Maybe what you were trying to do can be postponed. Going for a walk to get out in nature is often a better way to spend your time than impatiently waiting.
When you discover you need to practice being patient, which of these approaches do you think you might take?