Patience is a virtue that many of us could do with a little more of in our lives. When we take a step back and let things happen in their own time, we can enjoy a sense of calm and relaxation.
It’s amazing how going with the flow a little bit more often can have such a positive impact on our daily lives.
How to be more patient
In the instant-access world we live in, it is tricky to even imagine cultivating patience. It seems boring and oh-so-frustrating to have to wait for the outcome we want.
However, the art of patience isn’t simply about waiting – it’s more about your attitude as you do so.
I recently bought some house plants from a lovely lady in her seventies. As she walked me through her exquisite garden, she proudly introduced me to a small, unimpressive looking shrub, before announcing that it had been a project of hers for the last 26 years.
I was struck by her ability to keep a plant alive considerably longer than I ever have, but even more so by her incredible patience to wait so many years for the goodness to literally grow.
She kept a joyful and curious disposition, instead of harbouring frustration that there wasn’t more to show for her efforts, and that’s exactly what we need to focus on when learning how to be more patient.
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Developing a patient attitude
As author Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton said, “patience is not passive” – it’s an active choice to not react negatively when things take time or turn out differently to what you expected.
When practiced regularly, it supports you to increase your powers of self-regulation and persist with your projects long-term.
On the flip side, impatience is the uneasy restlessness and familiar feeling of agitation that stirs up when things aren’t happening to your ideal timeframe. Perhaps you aren’t who or where you wanted to be by now.
Whether your destination is mental, physical or emotional, frustration builds up, tolerance wanes, and aggravation overtakes the ability to accept the present for what it truly is.
The thing is, not much will be achieved by expressing anger at a situation which is out of your control. You can’t change whatever it is that has thrown you off-course, but you can change how you react to it.
How patient are you? Take our personality test
How to slow down
As life speeds up, there has been a steady rise in popularity of initiatives such as the Slow Living movement. More people than ever are coming together to form communities (and, in some parts of Italy, whole cities) who are willing to practice patience.
They’ve discovered that through patience food grows, experiences unfold, healing transpires and deep connections are formed.
The most patient people are those who embrace the enjoyment of the full experience, knowing that calmly moving past the setbacks will lead you to a greater sense of appreciation in the end.
3 steps towards a more patient life
Consciously respond to life’s little ups and downs
After all, you get to choose whether you want to be patient or not! Starting with something small, make the choice to bring calm and acceptance into the moment you’re facing a challenge and notice how that feels for you.
Relax and release
In moments of impatience, start to progressively relax your body from your head down to your toes. When you’re tense, your muscles tend to tighten up. Scan through your body and, with awareness, recognise the tension that you’re holding on to, then release it.
Use patience to achieve your long-term goals
The road to success can be long and winding, so let go of wanting to reach the end or see results immediately, instead celebrate the small wins and milestones you’ve passed along the way.
Photos by Andrew Neel and Shelby Miller on Unsplash