Maybe it’s waiting in line at the post office or the grocery store. Maybe it’s a coworker who keeps missing their deadlines. Maybe it’s your child, who just won’t behave.
We’ve all heard the saying, “patience is a virtue” - but how are we supposed to be patient when there are so many different things in life that could potentially try our patience, every single day?
If patience is a virtue that you’re actively trying to learn, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 6 tips for learning to become more patient, as well as some insights into how patience can help your relationships and work life.
“Why Do I Feel So Impatient?”
Ever asked yourself this after you snapped at your child (or your childish coworker) for the millionth time? If so, you’re not alone and you’re not abnormal or a so-called bad person for losing it every once in a while. Some people are more impatient than others, just due to personality type. Others have external stressors that add to their lack of patience.
However, even though your lack of patience might not be something that’s inherently your fault, it can be helpful learning to control your patience, so that you’re not damaging relationships or your reputation by flying off the handle everytime someone pushes you too far.
The first part of learning to become more patient? Identifying what it is that triggers your impatience. It’s likely not just your child in general, or that annoying coworker (even if that’s what it feels like). Instead, maybe it’s wasted time that triggers your impatience; you feel like your child struggling to put on their shoes or your coworker wasting valuable meeting time is burning through this precious resource. Or, it could be a feeling that you’re not being heard that triggers your impatience (you told your child to get ready an hour ago, and they still haven’t; you told your coworker when the report was due, but they didn’t seem to care).
Look for patterns in the things that trigger your impatience. See if you can get to the root of what causes these negative feelings.
Patience — Why Does It Matter?
“So what?” you ask.
“My child should’ve listened to me when I told them to put on their shoes."
"My coworker shouldn't waste everyone’s time."
"It’s not my fault that I’m impatient."
"They shouldn’t have behaved that way!”
And that’s a very easy mindset to fall into. However, honing your patience could greatly benefit you and those around you, in more ways than you might think.
Studies have shown that patient individuals are more likely to have better mental health than those who do not consider themselves to be patient. Additionally, patient people are seen by others to be more empathic, equitable and forgiving. Patience can even help your physical health, as another study found that patient individuals were less likely to report common health problems like headaches, acne, ulcers and gastrointestinal issues (whereas impatient individuals were more likely to report health problems and poor sleep).
Typically, individuals who show more patience also show strengths in other, related areas, such as their…
Ability to focus
Ability to juggle and manage both short-term and long-term goals
Stress and emotion management
Want to level up your skills in any of these areas? Then you might want to try improving your patience — especially if you’re looking to move up in your career. These skills are all highly valuable in the modern workplace.
In addition to enhancing your value as an employee, though, these skills can also make your work life more enjoyable. The more patient you are, and the more you're able to regulate your emotions, the better your relationships with your coworkers will be, and the more harmonic your work environment.
On top of this, if you’re in a leadership or management position, learning to become more patient will also allow you to make better decisions that affect those around you, while also helping you to build positive relationships with your employees.
Here’s How to Increase Your Patience
But here’s what you really came for. Here are our top six tips for learning how to become more patient, so you can reap the above-mentioned benefits. Whether you’re looking to be more patient with your child, partner, friends or coworkers, all of these tips will apply to you.
1. Take the situation for what it is.
Many times, impatience stems from the fact that you just don’t like your reality right now. Your child didn’t put on their shoes so now you’re late and you don’t like that. Your coworker didn’t do their job and now you have to work overtime on the weekend, and no one enjoys that. However, sometimes, acceptance is the key to happiness (as well as patience!). So, the next time you're upset at a situation that you can’t change, take a deep breath and accept it for what it is.
2. Make an effort to slow down.
What are you trying to get to, so quickly, that's so important? Is your impatience going to get you there quicker? Whatever it is, your lack of patience is probably not going to help. Take a deep breath and slow your mind down, and know - it's all going to be okay.
3. Try to take yourself less seriously.
Often, the situations that try our patience the most, are also situations that are - to some degree - laughable. Things in life are just a little ridiculous. Look for the humour in the mundane. It may take you a while to actually see it, but believe us - it’s there.
4. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Sure, your child should’ve gotten dressed when you told them to, and sure, your coworker should’ve done their job on time. However, what’s it really going to help if you yell at either of them about it. Your child will be hurt. Your coworker will be upet. Neither of them will likely do their assigned task any quicker. So really, the only result you've achieved is a lot of negativity to those around you.
5. Distract (and reward) yourself.
When all else fails, distract yourself. Get away from the patience-trying situation. Maybe you need to take a walk around the block. Maybe you just need to put on your headphones and listen to some tunes for a while. Maybe you can use that extra time that you’ll now have, waiting for your child, to get something done on your to-do list.
You may also find it effective to reward yourself for being patient. In fact, one study found that, when people were confident that they would have some future gratification, they were much more likely to be patient in trying situations. Try promising yourself that, for example, if you get through your child getting ready without losing your cool, you’ll reward yourself with your favourite drink from your favourite coffee shop. Or, that you’ll treat yourself to a dinner out after work if you get through the work day without snapping at that patience-trying coworker.
Whatever you need, make sure you’re giving yourself a much-deserved pat on the back for being patient. You’ll effectively distract yourself and maybe even train your brain to be more patient in future situations where a reward isn’t necessarily guaranteed.
6. Meditate the impatience away.
Meditation can be a great way for you to not only distract your brain from your negative emotions, but just a general feel-good way for you to calm your mind and focus on what’s really important. Lower your stress levels as you focus on your breathing and you’ll quickly see the physical symptoms of impatience melt away.
Of course, meditation and all of the above “tips” take some practice before they'll feel completely natural. However, if you give it a shot and really work at building your patience, you may just find that you become a more patient person sooner than you think.
Get started with meditation
Ready to try meditation? To increase your patience, try Flow's "Let's slow down" meditation. Taking a moment to calm will help you become more grounded and aware. Access your free 7-day trial with Flow mobile and web app here.