In today’s day and age, most of us are used to getting everything almost immediately. We can order food online and have it delivered within minutes, we can order our groceries online and have them show up the next day, we can message friends and family and get an instant response no matter where they are.
This instant gratification has its benefits, but it also makes us less and less patient, less willing to wait for tasks to be done, people to respond, and things to arrive. If you’ve noticed yourself lacking patience and wondered how to become more patient, you’re in the right place.
In this article, we’ll discuss the downsides of being impatient as well as the benefits of being patient. We’ll share tips on recognizing the signs and triggers for impatience and show you how to learn patience with practical advice and tools.
What Happens When We Aren't Patient
Impatience is on the same spectrum of feelings as anger. It is usually recognized as irritation but it can also lead to frustration and even rage, especially if the same situation repeats over and over again.
Another downside of not being patient is that your stress hormone levels rise, which in turn triggers the flight or fight response. This flight or fight response can lead to a panic attack or an anxiety attack and generally a whole host of negative consequences on your body according the Mayo Clinic.
Lastly, a lack of patience makes others perceive you as an angry or arrogant person who often makes poor decisions. This negative image can then cause superiors to avoid giving you a promotion or your friends and family distancing themselves from you.
Benefits of Being Patient
Being patient, on the other hand, has the complete opposite effect of impatience as discussed above.
1. Better Relationships At Home
When you practice patience, you’ll have much better relationships with your friends and family. When you stay patient, you won’t lose your temper for the smallest mistakes or go into a rage fit because an appliance wasn’t fast enough and that alone means your family members don’t have to worry about you getting irritated, frustrated, and angry. The same applies to your friends who'll be more inclined to invite you over for dinner or to spend a Sunday afternoon with you.
2. Better Relationships At Work
Similarly, you’ll have better relationships at work when you learn how to gain patience. Your co-workers won’t have to worry about your temper and your superiors will know they can count on you to remain calm in tricky situations. In the long run, this means you'll have better chances of advancing within your company and in your career. The above is further proved by a study done by Debra R. Comer and Leslie E. Sekerka in 2014.
3. Less Stress in Your Life
Another benefit of practicing patience is less stress in your life. Research shows that impatience leads to elevated cortisol levels which means the more impatient you are, the more stress you're under. When you’re patient, your cortisol levels are usually within normal range so there's no stress that can cause other health problems.
4. Higher Chances of Achieving Goals
Patience can also help you achieve your goals with more success. According to a study done by professor Sarah A. Schnitker in 2012, patient people reported exerting more effort toward their goals than other people did. By now, you probably know that achieving goals isn’t always easy and many people give up on their goals because they lose patience. This is especially true for goals you set at the beginning of each year and then fail to follow through on them. Luckily, being more patient could be the solution you’re looking for when it comes to setting and achieving goals.
5. Better Overall Health
Lastly, becoming a more patient person leads to better overall physical and mental health. Another study by Schnitker and Emmons in 2007 shows that patient people are less likely to suffer from health problems like headaches, acne flare-ups, ulcers, diarrhea, and pneumonia.
Now that we've discussed the disadvantages of impatience and the benefits of being patient, you may wonder whether you need to learn how to be more patient. The first step is recognizing when you're too impatient. Read on to learn the signs of impatience and what triggers it.
How to Recognize the Signs of Impatience
You can recognize impatience if you observe any of the following symptoms:
- Shallow, short breathing
- Tension in your muscles
- Clenching your hands or jaw
- Irritability or frustration
- Snap judgments and decisions
What Triggers Your Impatience
Once you recognize the signs of being impatient, you need to learn to recognize what triggers your impatience. Some people may be impatient around other people while some people may react to situations or objects. This can include a line at the grocery store, rush hour traffic, a slow printer, or other circumstances.
To identify your triggers, start by noting down what caused you to become impatient the next time you notice the above signs. You can also think back to past situations when you lost patience and try to identify what exactly caused it.
Another way to identify your triggers is to talk to your friends and family and ask if they can help you identify which situations caused you to lash out and become impatient.
Once you know what triggers your impatience, you can start changing your behavior and applying positive changes in your life that'll help you gain patience.
Now that you know how to recognize impatience, it's time to learn how to be more patient.
How to Become More Patient
Becoming more patient isn't impossible. In an ideal situation, you’d avoid situations and people that cause you to become impatient. However, in the real world that’s not possible for most of us. Instead, we've got to understand how to learn patience. Below, you’ll find 12 ways that can help you practice patience and cultivate this habit.
Here are your tips on how to be patient:
1. Count to 10
The first tactic you can try is to count to 10 when you feel that you’re starting to get irritated or angry. You can slowly count to 10 in your head or out loud, but this effective technique will take away the initial desire to lash out in frustration or make a poor decision.
The next tip on our list is meditation. Meditation is a simple practice of focusing your thoughts on a particular phrase or object so you can achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. While meditation can sound difficult, nowadays, there's no shortage of apps that can help you integrate this practice into your daily life. Some of the popular apps include Headspace, Calm, The Mindfulness App, and more. The best thing about meditation is that it doesn’t have to take long to reap the benefits.
3. Engage in a Creative Activity
Engaging in a creative activity is another great way to practice your patience skills. This can include drawing, painting, calligraphy, puzzles, sudoku, crosswords, and any other activity that naturally requires patience. You can pair the activity with relaxing music and set a timer for 30 minutes each day where you dedicate your time to that activity. If 30 minutes is too much, start with five or 10 minutes and slowly increase the time spent on the activity.
4. Go for a Walk
You’ve probably heard the advice of “walking it off” when you’re angry. The same tactic can be applied to any situation that causes you to be impatient. Walking away from the situation removes you from the triggers and allows you to regroup and refocus so that you can come back with a clear head and face the situation without fear of losing your temper.
5. Daydream or Visualize
If your impatience is triggered by specific situations, you might want to try daydreaming or visualizing. Simply, imagine a place or a situation that makes you happy and brings you to a calm state. This is often referred to as your “happy place” and you should try to actively engage all your senses to immerse yourself fully in your daydream.
6. Ask for Help
A common impatience trigger is the feeling of overwhelm. If that happens to you frequently, try asking for help. Talk to your co-workers, superiors or family members and explain too many tasks on your plate cause you to lose patience. Look for tasks you can delegate or get extra help with.
7. Take Deep Breaths
The next time you feel you’re getting impatient, try taking deep breaths. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. You can repeat this several times on its own or pair it with counting to ten. The deep breathing technique from the yoga specialists at Gaiam has been proven effective in reducing stress and helping you become more patient.
8. Recognize Your Triggers
We’ve covered how you can recognize your impatience triggers, but it’s important to stress this again. You need to understand what situations or people or events cause you to lose patience. Once you start recognizing what those triggers are, you can stay patient by practicing any of the techniques beforehand or at the onset of a situation that typically causes you to lose patience.
9. Start Small
It’s important to remember that every big change doesn’t happen overnight. You need to start small rather than aiming for patience in every possible situation. Learn to differentiate what causes different levels of impatience and tackle those that make you feel a little impatient. When you know you can handle those situations, you can move on to more challenging situations and gradually work your way up to the triggers that cause you to lose your temper quickly.
If you find that people are usually the main reason behind your impatience, consider acting out of service first and teaching them how to do a particular task. What’s important here is that you need to remember that nobody learns at the same pace and no one person has a knack for the same things as you do. Try to remember things you’re not good at and see things from their perspective. They'll be grateful for you taking the time to explain the process to them and you can benefit from knowing you’re one step closer to becoming more patient.
11. Find a Release Outlet
Try finding a release outlet for your frustration. This usually involves a physical activity, which includes going for a run, joining a local sports team, taking up kickboxing or any other activity where you can let off steam without the fear of hurting anybody. Letting go of your frustration in this way will instantly make you feel better, not to mention the numerous health benefits that come from being physically active.
12. Keep Practicing
Lastly, don’t forget to keep practicing your patience. As we’ve mentioned before, big changes don’t happen overnight so it’s safe to assume that learning how to be patient will take time. Keep identifying your triggers (you can even start a journal to keep track of situations that cause an impatient reaction) and keep applying the techniques here to manage your impatience. Pretty soon, you’ll notice your patience levels going up.
If you liked this tutorial on how to be patient, you may also enjoy the productivity tips in these articles:
- ProductivityQuick Tip: Sometimes It’s Best to Go Into Your Stress CaveJonathan Cutrell
- ProductivityHow to Fall Asleep at Night (When You Can’t)Andrew Blackman
- ProductivityHow to Reboot Your Brain and Mentally Reset NowLaura Spencer
Start Practicing Patience
We've just shared some ideas to help you to be patient. Being patient has several benefits, such as a positive impact on your relationships both at work and at home and the people around you seeing you in a more positive light. Use the tips in this article to recognize your impatience triggers and learn how to stay patient in today’s fast-paced, instant-gratification world.
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