You've heard the saying, "patience is a virtue". Essentially this speaks to the principle that all good things take time to create.
As a personal attribute, patience can be challenging in today's world where we have become conditioned and addicted to "quick fix" solutions and "instant" everythings - from foods, to medicine, to shopping, entertainment and more.
The problem with these quick fixes is that they're like "band aids" that don't allow us to be self sustainable in our lives. They breed dependency and a lack of preparedness. And they also encourage us to deprive ourselves of two of life's most important qualities - perseverance and resilience.
For these reasons, it's worth reacquainting ourselves with why patience is such an important virtue and how we can use it to chase bigger dreams and to lead a more fulfilling life.
Being patient is not necessarily about adding more to an already busy schedule. Of course, this will only add to your level of anxiety and stress.
It's about valuing more highly, important tasks or projects, giving them the attention they deserve, and staying the course.
By learning how to be more patient, you can develop a healthier perspective and outlook on life, whilst being more mindful in your approach to your every day.
Keep reading to discover how...
Why Patience Matters
If you're regularly stressed or feeling run off your feet, it's probably time to slow down and take stock of what's most important.
Patience is a virtue when it is connected to things that add true value to your life. Things like; becoming a better friend, parent or spouse, healing a sickness, losing weight, starting a new business, building a team, or setting a personal goal.
On the other hand, trying to apply patience to a series of tasks or situations that don't serve you or where there's no clarity, will simply leave you frustrated, stressed and overwhelmed.
Patience matters, because all good things take time to cultivate and achieve if you believe in them. But the secret is to do the little things right on a consistent basis and to keep showing up.
The good news is that when you're able to be patient and see things through to a positive outcome, ultimately it leads to a greater sense of happiness, fulfilment and self worth. This is why patience matters and why it's such a vital attribute to practice and embrace as part of your life.
Evaluate Stressful Situations
Stress or frustration can be a sign that you lack clarity about what you're trying to achieve, or it may simply indicate a lack of patience.
Whenever you feel frustration or stress, try and identify the true root cause of this emotion and determine if it's simply an adverse reaction to a moment you could have handled better, confusion or overwhelm about your priorities, or just impatience.
For example, if you’re feeling impatient stuck in traffic, the root cause of the issue might actually be that you’re frustrated with yourself for not leaving on time. You can make it a priority to leave earlier going forward, and remind yourself that this is a one-time situation, which should help ease your impatience.
If you decide you want to pursue an important project, realise that there will be stressful or frustrating moments along the way. Good things never come easy. So it's important to reframe stress as simply energy that is part of the journey towards the bigger target or plan.
Sometimes, managing frustration or stress is all about perspective and reframing. By taking personal responsibility for the outcomes, by giving stress a different meaning you can roll with the punches and more patiently stay on track towards your goals.
In anything you're trying to improve or strive for in life, it's important to apply patience. The road to success is very rarely completely smooth - and no matter what happens, you will gain valuable lessons from your experience if you don't give up too early.
Focus On The Big Picture
When you focus on the bigger picture in life, you will automatically become more patient. When you have a sense of clarity as to where you're going and what you're trying to achieve, you see the journey as just a series of steps in the process.
This is truly what cultivates the attribute of patience in any area of your life you're trying to improve.
Remember, when you always seek instant gratification, you will always be on the quick-fix treadmill. And for true lasting fulfilment, this is not a good place to be. View your life as a masterpiece made up of a series of mini goals, experiences and projects. Prioritise the things that are important to you, map out a plan and stay the course.
As mentioned, everything you pursue won't always go to plan. But so long as you give these priorities your time, energy and focus...at the very least, you will discover important insights and lessons that you can take forward with you into new projects, pursuits and relationships.
A little gratitude goes a long way. Taking the time to think about how grateful you are can do wonders for your overall happiness, stress, and yes, your level of patience.
Gratitude forces us to slow down and take stock of everything we already have, rather than focus on the thing or things that may be driving us crazy in the moment.
Gratitude can help put everything back into perspective. For example, if you’re feeling impatient in a line, it might help to remind yourself: “I’m so grateful that this thing I'm lining up for is actually available”, or “This line is annoying, but I’m grateful that I'm going to be able to solve this problem today”.
Reframing the situation with gratitude can create an instant mental shift that will make you more patient and calm. You can proactively work to make gratitude a more regular part of your life by setting aside time each morning or night to reflect on the things you’re grateful for.
Learn more in 6 Self Care Habits to Support Better Mental Health.
Whenever you’re in a situation that’s bringing you stress or negative feelings, return to your breath. Stress, overwhelm and frustration are all emotions that are closely linked to shallow, unconscious breathing.
However, intentional, deep breathing is one of the most powerful self-calming tools we have to help us alleviate stress, re-set and to give us better perspective and patience.
The next time you feel impatience taking control, try taking ten deep breaths, slowly expanding the diaphragm for a count of 5 in - hold - then out.
You should feel instantly calmer and better able to handle situation. Over time, this practice will become more intuitive and your body will naturally revert to breath work in stressful or frustrating situations. The net result? You'll be more centred, calm and clear.
Everyday Tips For Cultivating Patience
Learning to be more patient boils down to reducing your dependency or addiction to instant gratification.
The more you practice delaying gratification in your every day simple habits, the more you'll develop a strength and resilience that builds patience as a personal attribute - and ultimately a happier, healthier you.
A good place to start cultivating more patience is in your approach to your physical habits.
Here's some basic ideas:
- Wait ten extra minutes after dinner instead of automatically saying 'yes' to dessert. Often you'll find that once your meal settles, you actually don't feel like dessert and of course you'll be placing less weight on your digestive system. Over time, a simple habit like this will make a big difference to your health;
- Don’t binge on Netflix. Try spacing out your favourite new series, say, one episode every other day, instead of lying on the couch for hours on end and watching an entire season in one sitting;
- SAVE up for that new gadget or pair of shoes you want to buy online, instead of putting it straight on "credit" without thinking twice. Yes, it may take an extra month or two for you to have the cash to make the purchase, but this more patient, responsible approach will grow your financial intelligence;
- Don’t let yourself respond to every single notice or buzz that appears on your cell phone; Turn off notifications for select periods of your day where you need to focus on productivity to save yourself the distraction and temptation. When you've put a dent in your important work for the day, dedicate an hour or two to responding to messages, checking your Apps, or answering emails;
- Don't make home delivery food or takeaway a habit, instead make it a treat every now and then. Be conscious enough to shop for ingredients and prepare easy, healthy meals for yourself more often;
- Enjoy your coffee AFTER your morning exercise. A great little habit that helps delay gratification and cultivate patience, is to put back your morning coffee, smoothie or breakfast until AFTER you've done your morning walk or workout. Frame your coffee as your little reward for a job well done once you've moved your body first thing in the morning.
These suggestions may seem trivial, but all of them will help you to move from a state of demanding instant gratification to one of being more habitual in practicing the art of patience.
The Key Takeaway
In a world where we have everything on speed dial, many people have lost the ability to be resilient, independent and to see things through to a successful outcome.
For this reason, adopting a more patient mindset and approach to life, will allow you to experience more, learn more, achieve more and ultimately lead a life that is more fulfilling, and where you feel more self assured and in control.
Remember, patience is a healthy trait that can be learned and improved all the time, so don’t be discouraged if you slip up at first. But now that you've been reminded of why patience is such a powerful life-long virtue, you can begin reshaping your perspective and making slight adjustments to the way you approach your habits, relationships and goals with a greater level of patience.
Tolman Self Care.