Learning the Power of Patience
You know the price you pay for being impatient—a tightening of the chest, rise in blood pressure and surge of irritation and anger directed at a person or circumstance.
But have you considered the benefits that come with being patient? You make better decisions, reduce your stress and anger and increase your peace of mind.
"Patience with yourself, with other people and with the big and small circumstances of life is a determining factor in your peace of mind," says M.J. Ryan, author of several self-help books, including The Power of Patience. "Impatience is a habit; so is patience. And by practicing being patient, you can increase its presence and power in your life."
Ms. Ryan defines patience as the capacity to stop before you act, so that you're clearly able to decide the best course of action or choose the right words to say instead of simply reacting. Patience accomplishes this by bringing these three qualities of mind and heart together:
Persistence. Patience gives you the ability to work steadily toward your goals and dreams.
Serenity. Patience gives you calmness of spirit. Rather than being thrown into anger, panic or fear by circumstance, you can put it into perspective and keep your cool.
Acceptance. Patience gives you the ability to cope with obstacles graciously and respond to life's challenges with courage, strength and optimism.
"It's easy to be accepting when all is well," says Ms. Ryan. "But when you're patient when things aren't going the way you want, you're truly practicing patience."
"Patience is something you do, not something you have or don't have," says Ms. Ryan. "It's a decision you make again and again. Patience is a quality that can be strengthened like a muscle."
Here are several steps you can take to strengthen your patience:
Reframe the situation by asking yourself one question: How else could I look at this situation that would increase the possibility of a good outcome or greater peace of mind? "What you're looking for is an interpretation that offers possibility instead of panic, hope instead of hysteria," says Ms. Ryan. "Your payoff will be a huge jump in your ability to engage resourcefully with life when it doesn't appear to be going your way."
Remind yourself that change is inevitable. When times are tough, it's helpful to remember that this, too, shall pass. Doing so gives you the strength, hope and patience needed to carry on.
Take yourself on a mental vacation. "If you're aggravated by standing in line or waiting on hold on the phone, visualize the most peaceful place you can think of. See, hear and feel yourself there," says Ms. Ryan. "Rather than focusing on how long you have to wait, relish a chance to take a quick daydream trip to Tahiti or the Alps."
Ask for help. Lots of times we're impatient because we're overloaded. "There's no prize at the end of your life for doing too much, particularly doing it in a frazzled state," says Ms. Ryan.
Start a patience movement. Thank others for being patient when you've been the one fumbling for the right change and holding up everyone. "It will defuse their tension and yours, and perhaps encourage others to be more patient as well," says Ms. Ryan.