Do you struggle with being patient? Are you infuriated when someone does something slowly? When you're stuck behind a slow driver? When people aren't doing things as effectively as you could?
Would you describe yourself as impatient? Would others?!
It's not entirely our fault, we have been wired to receive instant gratification for years now and this has led to more and more of us becoming impatient. Of course, it wasn't always this way. Our ancestors did not have things on demand, they often had to wait long periods of time to get the results the wanted.
If you want to reach out to your cousin in Australia from your arm chair in Wales, all you need to do right now is pick up your phone and send a message or make a call for an instant connection. This was not always the case. If your grandfather wanted to do that, he would have had to write a letter, take it to the post office for the appropriate postage to be applied, sent it, wait weeks for his cousin to receive it and reverse the process before he heard back. This could take months and the waiting required patience.
With advancements in technology, we now live in a world where instant gratification is no longer a novelty but an expectation. From social contacts, to TV on demand, to having your favourite meal delivered to your door, to ordering new clothes, we want it all and we want it NOW!
The problem with this is it can make us less and less patient in all aspects of our lives which can facture our relationships, careers, health and more.
What does being patient mean? The etymology of the word is roughly:
To suffer without complaint
So being patient is not about not having to wait, but it is choosing to wait and not allowing that to be a painful experience for you.
If you're impatient, you will know the suffering it causes, when you're waiting for someone dawdling in front of you, when your child is dithering about or when a colleague is meandering around not getting stuff done - it can all be infuriating and can cause us so much suffering!
With us living lives where we expect rewards to be instant, having to wait for anything can be difficult to learn to do. So how do we practice patience?
Create a 'supple mind' - As the Dalai Lama explained, we need to have a supple mind to be flexible for whatever life throws at us. We do not always have all the answers and sometimes when we are flexible we learn and experience wonderful new things.
Accept the 'is-ness' - This comes from the wisdom of Eckhart Tolle who encourages us to be much more in the present moment by accepting what is. Our suffering doesn't come from the event, it comes from us believing that the event should be different in some way, when we can accept the 'is-ness' of any situation, we are patient and no longer suffer.
Be uncomfortable - practicing patience requires being uncomfortable, waiting for someone to do something you could do quickly may be highly uncomfortable but get comfortable with being uncomfortable. We grow the most when we are uncomfortable.
Force yourself to wait - you may not like it but take opportunities to force yourself to wait, drive in the slow lane, take the longer supermarket checkout queue, the more you do it, the easier it will become.
Practice PEACE - this is a lovely mindfulness technique which you can practice anytime you feel overwhelmed or impatient:
Pause - catch yourself becoming impatient and just stop for a moment
Exhale - take a deep breath with an elongated exhale to become calmer
Acknowledge, accept and allow - the emotions without fighting them
Choose - how you want to respond
Engage – engage and enact your chosen response
For some becoming more patient may be a long journey but when we practice it we reap the rewards, a great life, great career, great relationships ... they all require patience, patience with ourselves and others.
If you would like some more help, we have a fantastic course on "Patience is Your Superpower!" contact us to find out more.