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Cultivating Greater Patience Means a Happier, Healthier You

2012 November 26

Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing” it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way. ~Fulton J. Sheen

PatienceHow’s your patience quota these days? Are you able to easily tolerate waiting in lines, traffic delays, or frustration at those around you without becoming agitated or upset?

Regardless of how well you handle the holiday rush, there is no question a bit of extra patience is required this time of year.

In fact, life is full of situations that can make us lose patience; it can be as basic as people around you poking along at a snail’s pace, getting in the way and taking too much time, or someone 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.

Or it can be as complicated as agitation triggered by certain types of situations or people that remind you of past upsets or slights.

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. In fact, cultivating the ability to identify and effectively manage stressors around you could be one of the best gifts you can give yourself.

Of course, this is sometimes easier said than done, because for many of us patience does not come naturally. It can however can be cultivated, and here are just a few good reasons to make the effort.

  • Less stress makes you a happier, healthier person.
  • Results in clearer thinking, which means better decision-making.
  • Helps develop understanding, empathy and compassion.
  • Helps you understand and appreciate the process of growth.

Here are a few tips get you started:

Know Your Triggers

It may be that not everyone will agree that knowing your triggers belongs at the top of the list, but consider this … very often that “final straw” that results in our loss of patience is not the actual trigger. For example, let’s say your boss tells you at noon that you’re going to be required to work late, and isn’t at all sympathetic when you tell him your kid is the star of the Christmas pageant tonight. You begin stewing and for the rest of the day your patience level grows progressively shorter with everyone you come in contact with, until the poor schlep that happens to turn his report into you half an hour late is your “final straw,” and you blow.

The trigger was the original message delivered by your boss, but that resulted in the progressive eroding of your patience, and ultimately loss of control at the end of the day.

Identifying your triggers and the situations that make it most difficult for you to stay focused and calm, enable you to then be proactive about coming up with strategies to work with. Once you’ve identified your stressors you can 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 More Empathetic

Just because someone cuts you off while driving doesn’t automatically mean they are doing it to irritate you personally; they may be experiencing stressors of their own and not even aware of you – not great in traffic, but there you are. Perhaps the loud child in the store has an ear infection or is just tired and cranky. Rather than assuming people are simply being rude, try to give them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they are dealing with a lot of stress themselves.

Think Before You Speak

At times we blurt out the first thought that comes into our heads without considering the consequences. If we’re patient, pause and go over what we want to say, we can avoid hurting or offending others.

Slow Down

If you find yourself feeling rushed while going about your normal day with no obvious reason, take a break to refocus. Will the world end if you get home five minutes late? This time of year in particular, assuming pretty much everything you do will take longer than usual, and giving yourself the gift of allocating extra time for whatever you do, will go a long way toward helping you remain calm.

Redirect Your Energy

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? Physical activity such as exercise or participating in a sport is an effective and positive way to redirect your energy. One of my favorite stress relief strategies is hitting golf balls at the driving range. Golf requires 100% of your attention, so it’s impossible to be grumpy and play well. If I’m having an especially bad day, I’ll draw a little face on the balls and imagine it’s the person who’s tested my patience and then I whack away. Works wonders!

Stay Focused on the Things That Matter

Happiness is a choice. Happy people are simply less likely to get annoyed over the little unimportant things in life. When you nurture yourself by getting enough rest, spend quality time with the people who matter in your life, 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.

Patience can seem unachievable to those of us who struggle with it. Don’t worry if you slip back into “impatient mode” now and again. Patience is a skill, not an inborn talent, and therefore can be acquired by anyone with the will to learn.

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13 Responses
  1. December 8, 2012

    Hi Marty,

    You really covered all the bases in your post on patience. Cultivating patience in your personal and business life really will make for a happier, healthier you. For me cultivating patience in learning how to share and interact on social media for my business has been huge. Slowing down and thinking before I speak online has really been a great help for me. Thanks for being such an inspiring teacher.

    Love and Light,

    Shelley Alexander recently posted..Chia Chocolate Pumpkin MousseMy Profile

    • December 10, 2012

      Thanks Shelley! So glad you enjoyed the article – always appreciate your thoughts and valuable insight :-)

  2. December 7, 2012

    Hi Marty, you reminded me of an incident the other night, where my hubby got impatient before a Band gig (he’s the singer, so it’s really not good to be in bad mood when going on stage). Where I live, the weather is humid like it is in Hawaii, and I think it slows people down a bit.

    Anyway, the guys who were setting up all the speakers and lights and doing the sound check were a bit slow – they’d been at the hotel for 4 hours, and still weren’t ready to do the sound check. And, hubby was trying to be patient. Then, all of a sudden, he slammed his fist on the table, knocking over 2 full glasses of drink. And, off he stormed to the band room to try and cool down.

    I went out there 10 mins later, and he was sitting there still blue in the face. Another band member was trying to say funny things and put him in a better mood, but it wasn’t working. He told me later, when he heard the band playing, he started to feel better and ran out onto the stage, singing great like he always does. He took a few runs around the room, and then he was over it.

    Singing always puts him in a good mood no matter what! So, that’s my “being impatient” story LOL
    Julieanne vanZyl recently posted..Your own Daily Marketing CoachMy Profile

  3. December 4, 2012

    Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them–every day begin the tasks anew.
    Candice Michelle recently posted..herbal blend for adhdMy Profile

  4. November 30, 2012

    Hi Marquita,

    Patience is something I have worked hard to learn by being able to get myself into “patient mode.” It isn’t natural to be patient and for a long time it seemed I was always being faced with situations which gave me two choices. Either fight it, or relax and just “go with the flow.” These situations are always lessons which kept coming until I was able to consider patience as one of my characteristics. Isn’t it interesting how life throws you these curve balls until the lesson is learned? I’ve become a very patient person these days. In most cases I didn’t have a choice because as you mentioned in several examples, we cannot control everything. Most situations which involve other people dealing with their own stresses don’t bother me anymore. I used to get annoyed with daily insignificant events such as waiting in lines or traffic hold ups. I simply accept these as inconveniences. Nothing more.

    For example, I was at a restaurant the other day and somehow the counter lady skipped my order. Several people who ordered after me received their food. Suddenly she asked, “Did you get your order?” because she realized I had been waiting for awhile. I politely said “no” with a smile. She hurriedly got the order and apologized for the delay. I was kind and I could tell she was relieved that I had not become angry. When I left I felt proud of myself because I didn’t ruin her day by something so insignificant. I usually crack a joke, which I did, and a possible uncomfortable situation for her and everyone in the restaurant was avoided. Believe me, the scenario would have been completely different if I had not learned that patience is a virtue.

    I also admire and respect people who are patient because I know they worked hard and have passed the lessons they have faced in their lives. Great tips on how to deal with impatience. Thanks!

    Raena Lynn
    Raena Lynn recently posted..Trim And Focus. Do You Need 5 Staplers On Your Desk?My Profile

    • December 1, 2012

      Welcome back Raena and thank you so much for sharing your story – not many people would have been so patient, but it definitely sounds like it was the right way to go. I’m not a psychologist, but based on my research, I think most people have to work at it – some more than others.

  5. November 30, 2012

    Hi Marquita,
    It’s funny to come across this post because at my place a guest is talking about superpowers and I just said I wish my superpower was patience! For me it has to do with waiting for the things I’m manifesting in life, though lately, I’m not waiting so much. I’m learning to follow my intuition and to just not wait, if that makes sense!
    Great tips on developing patience, especially with the holiday shopping happening right now!
    Lori Gosselin recently posted..What is Your Superpower?My Profile

    • December 1, 2012

      Welcome Lori and thank you for contributing to the conversation. I must admit I can certainly relate to your desire not to wait around – I’m pretty patient with other people … not so much with myself. In fact, when it comes to my goals I’m rather more like a bulldog and have to occasionally temper my enthusiasm :-)

  6. November 27, 2012

    “Patience is a Virtue” and that is so true! I think that knowing our triggers gives us control over situations. Once we identify what triggers us, we can use different methods to control it. I have learned so many in the past and do apply it now on a natural basis. If I encounter a trigger, I take a deep breath, then tell the person “give me a moment.” And then continue in a calm voice. Works like magic!

    I do believe that happiness is a choice. Sometimes it takes some work on ourselves to reach that, but it is better than being stuck and wimp out. I do work with folks that are not happy no matter what. It takes some work, but if the person is willing to get out of their hole, it can be done.

    Great topic!
    Donna Merrill recently posted..Assessing The PastMy Profile

    • November 29, 2012

      Welcome back Donna, and thanks so much for taking the time to contribute to the conversation – always appreciated! I understand your point about some people not being able to find happiness regardless of the circumstances. I spend a lot of time networking in forums, as I know you do, and sometimes you come across people who are so negative about life it’s just painful to think about what it must be like to be them. All we can do is offer encouragement and the possibility of a better way :-)

  7. November 27, 2012

    “Know your triggers” – that is a big one for me. I can become impatient when I think anyone is behaving unfairly. This past weekend I damn near went postal when I saw someone trying to cut in line at Safeway – husband reminded me that I’m NOT the rules police at the grocery store.
    Kimba recently posted..In Search Of: Angry White MaleMy Profile

    • November 27, 2012

      Oh Kimba you have no idea what a smile you brought to my face when I read your comment – I’m not the only one! I have a similar problem, in fact I’ll confess that the one and only time in my life I was fired was because I got in the face of a mid-level manager bullying another employee. She was a painfully shy single mother desperate to keep her job and he knew it and took advantage every chance he got. When the owner canned me he said he knew the manager was a real jerk, but at least he had some control over him, he obviously didn’t over me and one of us had to go. I chose to take that as a left-handed compliment … though I admit after that I resigned my position as general manager of the universe :-)

  8. November 26, 2012

    I totally agree with you that patience is power, but we rarely use its potential. Waiting just one more minute or not saying something rude can mean everything in certain situations. Thanks for reminding of these important truths.
    To be honest, I felt as if I became a bit more patient after reading this post. One step closer to peace of mind
    Julia Reed recently posted..Lecture Recording: Can Audio Lectures Replace Professors?My Profile

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