Patience is one of the most difficult qualities to develop in this fast paced and impatient world. We want everything, we want it our way, and we want it now! We think that if we slow down we’ll fall behind. Occasional impatience is natural, but if it becomes a habit, it can make us ill.
Impatience contributes to feelings of anxiety, anger, dissatisfaction, and failure. It can ruin relationships with friends, partners, co-workers, and children. Being impatient is not an attractive quality and results in feelings of guilt for your out-of-control behavior. Being impatient can get you into real trouble. It can make you physically ill.
When you’re impatient, you view life as a chore; the task in front of you is something to get done and over with. When you’re impatient you’re trying to rush into the future, and in your rushing, you miss out on being in the present.
The sooner you learn the art of being patient, the easier and more peaceful your life will become. So hurry up and learn to develop this vital quality of patience. When you’re patient, you give up the struggle. You relax and enjoy your life and your relationships, and experience the beauty of each moment.
Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a thoughtful outlook on life. Patience leads to wisdom and success. How does this happen? When we are patient we slow down, and in taking our time we’re able to see the complexity in life. We are able to hear all that is being communicated to us. When we are patient, we are usually being silent and we become conscious of the natural rhythms of life.
Life has its own timing and flow. Patience allows us to see and feel circumstances as they are evolving. If we pay close enough attention and can quiet our minds, we may even be able to see the past, present, and future all in one moment. We can see what has been, and how it has led to what is now, and how it will create what will be in the future. In this way we have much more information to act on and to make our decisions with. Patience leads to successful action. It also leads to successful inaction – we will know when to leave well enough alone.
The key to patience is acceptance. When we are impatient, we are refusing to accept our circumstances or refusing to accept others as they are. We feel that we have to get busy and control, and fix everyone and everything. When we are impatient, we actually have the nerve to believe that the world should operate according to our wishes and our timetable. Impatience creates tremendous stress on each of us as well as those around us.
To develop patience, you can begin by taking a very deep breath. Feel the peace you have taken in with that breath. Now hold that breath for a moment and then slowly and fully release it, emptying out your lungs. Feel the stress that you have released with just that one conscious movement. Now, let a small smile play upon your lips and become aware of your inner contentment.
For the space of that breath, you were in acceptance and in the flow of life. For the space of that breath, you left life alone and trusted it to move at its own pace. For the space of that breath, you expressed your happiness. For the space of that breath, you were patient.
Shirley Vandersteen, Ph. D., R. Psych.