Patience by beau-foto
Life is full of situations that can make us lose patience; bad drivers, long lines, noisy neighbors, and relationships at work and home. We’re surrounded by people and places that are either too slow or too rushed. When you look into your impatience it’s ironic. Either people around you are poking along at a snail’s pace, getting in the way and taking too much time, or they’re rushing in a frenzy, bumping into you in their hurry and cutting you off in traffic to pass just one more car before they reach their turn.
Learning to be patient in the face of places and issues that irritate and frustrate you can bring more calm, tranquility and peace into your life. The ability to remain unaffected by the pandemonium around you could be one of the best gifts you can give yourself.
Losing your patience leads to stress and confusion. You feel vulnerable and agitated. Your blood pressure increases as your heart rate goes up, and your breathing becomes quick and shallow as your body prepares for fight or flight. As you can see, it’s in your best interest to obtain and keep a high level of tolerance and harmony no matter what is happening around you.
Of course, all this is easier said than done. For me the best way to achieve a more placid and serene existence is to practice patience each day. Work on it a little bit each day, and if possible set aside one day a week to put your tips and techniques into use. Start by concentrating on increasing your acceptance and understanding of the flaws of those around you. Use the tips below to get started:
- Acceptance. Being more empathetic to others is a great place to start. If someone cuts you off while driving, perhaps they have a sick child at home they are rushing to get medicine for. Perhaps the loud child in the store has a severe ear infection that is making him crankier than usual. Instead of assuming people are simply being rude to us, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they are dealing with a lot of stress themselves.
- Remove judgments. Remind yourself that you are not Emperor of The World. No one appointed you to judge the best pace for walking through the store, the correct pace for learning something new, or the right sound levels for a friendly party. You are not the expert on traffic control, a parenting counselor, nor a time management professional. Leave that stuff to the specialists.
- Question yourself. Ask yourself “Will getting angry about this long line be useful for me? Is there some way I can better spend my time?” Perhaps during a wait in the doctor’s office you can write a list for the grocery store, do a puzzle, or email a friend. Find opportunities to use your time more wisely and you will find the moments flying by much more pleasantly.
- Identify your stressors. All of us are different and get upset for different reasons. Find out what issues and situations make it most difficult for you to stay focused and calm. Then come up with strategies to work with it. Can you grocery shop at an earlier hour when most people are still home? Can you eat out on a night like Monday or Tuesday so you aren’t surrounded by large crowds? Try a few options for your most irritating scenarios, and of course remind yourself to breathe deeply and stay in a positive state of mind.
- Be happy. Happy people are simply less likely to get annoyed over the little things. Think about it. When you sleep in on the weekend, have lots of time to do things, and are well nourished, you are less inclined to react when a child is crying, or a waiter is rude, or your tasks take longer than expected. Take time for yourself and work on the goals for your happiness. Make sure that you are working on your own happiness goals and are scheduling fun and laughter into your day.
- Give in to your anger. Unlike our initial thought, that giving in to our anger makes it bigger and meaner, in actuality giving in to anger often releases it. Many of us feel like we need to be happy and perfect all the time. But the truth is we all have moments when we are less than we wish to be. Accepting ourselves, flaws and all, is a path to contentment, peace and understanding. Patience is not the rejection of our anger or pain, but simply a redirection of that energy. Would you really rather focus on the five reasons you feel so mad, or find something better to occupy your mind?
There are as many ways to learn patience as there are to lose it. Check out these articles for additional reading:
Patience – how to develop it.