Decades ago, I decided that it would be my major intention in life to develop more patience. As a result, I am always mindful of my pre-disposition to lose patience with people, places, things, and most of all, grocery store check-out lines.
But the good news is, I am making progress and finding more peace and less stress, even when purchasing groceries.
Patience is a coping skill I find increasingly challenging to develop in the age of instant gratification. Since the onset of the electronic age, the preponderance of gadgets (phones, texts, email, Amazon Now) has encouraged an expectation that nothing less than speedy responses will be accepted.
Answer the phone on the first ring. Why does it take so long for that woman to count her change? I sent you a text an hour ago. Everyone in your universe is responding at a snail’s pace and causing you stress. Help!
I was caught up short this summer, when I visited my oldest and best friend two weeks ago. I was trying to finish my novel, and Pat was ever present with her council.
“Have patience, Joan. You won’t be able to get through this process if you don’t see the long distance. There is an end coming, but there is a way to get to that end gracefully.”
Wise words. If you have a friend, mentor or family member caution you that the end is not the most important part of the process, you understand that process is part and parcel of the end result.
The following are 5 guideposts that will help you re-direct the emotional attachment to instant gratification and develop more patience.
When a friend, or even someone you don’t know, makes a remark to “Have patience,” it might aggravate or offend you. You think, How dare that person intrude on my space and my feelings of self-righteousness?
But not everyone moves at your pace – the waitress doesn’t come to the table in a timely fashion, the people buying tickets at the movies take too long.
Your ability to let go and release the negativity from your heart, turning inward until your needs are met is crucial to understanding practicing patience. It’s emotionally freeing and a powerful practice that can move you into meditation until you receive the gratification that you are searching for.
When things aren’t moving the way you want them to, when frustration obstructs you or renders you ineffective, when you have to delay gratification, your first response is to get angry or be disappointed. Yet, this is an opportunity to turn the negative into a positive.
Take those uncomfortable moments to recognize your vulnerability and cultivate strength of purpose and emotional honesty. Re-set a mantra or an intention, shine light on your family and their needs. Meditate on giving gratitude, possessing joy and living a stress-free life.
The easier you adapt to situations with patience, the easier your life will be. Change and growth will follow. Abu Said, a famous 14th century Sufi poet in the Persian Empire gives us sound advice on adapting with patience: “Take one step away from yourself and lo behold! – the path.”
What Abu Said is advising is to get out of the way of yourself so you can see your life more clearly. I call this the 10 percent solution.
When you are frustrated because things aren’t moving fast enough, detach from the situation in order to gain perspective. Remove yourself from what is frustrating and then note how your stress level is reduced.
It is true that in difficult times, if you practice patience, personal growth will occur. When you face challenges as simple as waiting in line or trying to understand a new idea, patience is your path. And when you have difficulties in a relationship and hostilities increase, you heal with patience.
Patience is an indication of how successful you will be in relationships. With patience, you can take one step away and move forward, gaining objectivity, resolving issues, communicating more effectively and reducing stress.
Patience is liberating because it defies resistance and allows us to surrender, let go and see our life clearly.
Life has a rhythm of its own – its ups and downs, its ins and outs – and is full of surprises. “Expect the unexpected.” The unexpected requires you to be aware, to be present to what is happening in the moment and put on the brakes if necessary to avoid unpleasantness.
Allow your breathing to fall into an easy rhythm, not overly deep or shallow, but with an easy cadence that feels natural to you. Release focus on the negative situation and know that your turn awaits you. Trust the flow, take joy in delaying gratification and reduce your stress level.
Which comes first? Frustration or lack of patience? The chicken and the egg dichotomy is a human dilemma that not only inhibits our emotional freedom, but it also brings out the worst in us. Lack of patience is not a good look on anyone.
People notice impatience, they can feel it in your mind and body. Transition the negative to the positive and discover a relaxed state of mind that will get you through the nerve-wracking moments in your day while reducing stress.
What do you do to reduce stress and develop patience in your life? Do you try to expect the unexpected and go with the flow in life? Which recent situation required more of your patience than you were wiling to give? Please share in the comments below.