The other day, The Ranger (click here to see who The Ranger is) read my last blog post (click here to read my last blog post). Yes, he reads my blog. How awesome is he? Get you someone who so strongly supports your writing dreams that he/she will regularly read your blog. Anyway, he saw the part about me being on an “improve things in my life” binge, and he asked me what other aspects I want to improve upon. I told him that one of those is patience.
Admittedly, my patience has been . . . tested lately. One of my writing projects is requiring more revisions than I had anticipated, which I understand is the nature of writing. But my gosh. I feel like Norman Maclean when his father was teaching him how to write. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Check out the video below, and you’ll understand.
I’ve had some people who have tried my patience, but I’ve had to bite my tongue. We’ve all been there, am I right? Also, I encountered several rude people lately, including a particularly rude manager, in my opinion (don’t sue me, it’s just my opinion #freespeech), at Charming Charlie. I will never shop there again.
But, in the grand scheme of things, all of these people and incidents (and a few others that I won’t mention) are small. They shouldn’t bother me, and if I had more patience, maybe they wouldn’t. So, I want to improve on my patience. Plus, Erica Lamberg over at Reader’s Digest states that increasing one’s patience can lead to better physical health, increased relaxation, and increased happiness. Those sound like positives to me. So, here are some of the tips that I’ve found for increasing one’s patience. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if they work. How ironic.
How do you stay patient? Let me know in the comments below.
1. Reframe the way you’re thinking. Lamberg states that reframing your thinking is essentially thinking about your situation in more positive way. The Ranger attempted this with me when I told him about a person who was trying my patience. He suggested that instead of viewing that person as being negative and unhelpful that I should view that individual as trying to help me, but the way he/she is doing it just isn’t what I expected. That’s taking a negative and reframing it as a potential positive. Is it completely working for me yet? Erm . . . I’m trying.
2. Breathe deeply and slowly and count to ten. MindTools states that breathing slowly and deeply while counting to ten can help to slow your heart rate, relax your body, and get your mind on something else for a moment. Overall, this should help to distance “you emotionally from the situation” and increase your patience for whatever or whomever you are dealing with. MindTools claims that you might have to do this several times depending upon how impatient and frustrated you feel in the moment.
3. Slow down. MindTools also suggests that you slow everything down—slow your voice, slow your movements, slow everything. This makes sense. Sometimes, when impatience is creeping up, you just want to move quickly to get something done. But that can get into a cycle of wanting to move more quickly, to increased impatience that it’s not moving quickly, to wanting to move even more quickly, to even more impatience that it’s not moving quickly, ad infinitum until you pop (metaphorically speaking . . . I hope).
4. Put this in the big picture. This is from my dad. Try to view the situation within the scope of life’s “bigger picture.” Is the situation something big that will matter in ten years or is it small and won’t matter next week? Is it something that will physically hurt you or the ones you love? Is it something that you are strong enough to overcome?
That last one usually cools my jets when I remember to think of it. Why? Because I usually feel silly being upset over something when I ask myself, “Am I strong enough to overcome this?” Let’s take that lady being rude to me at the store as an example. When she was being offensive, I should have asked myself, “Am I strong enough to overcome this?” How silly does that seem now? My gosh, am I that much of a weenie that I have to be “strong” to overcome a stranger being rude to me for 10 minutes? I’m not saying that you should let someone walk all over you, but see how that question puts things into perspective? *sigh* I should have asked myself that question when I was in the store.
5. Chew food slowly. This one is kind of strange to me, but I thought that I should include it because it’s something that most people can do and because it’s kind of out there. Ashley Tate writes in “How to Be More Patient” that “by eating slowly, you can train yourself to be less impulsive and more patient in general.” Uh, okay. I guess it’s worth a try.
6. Laugh. Find the absurdity in the situation and let yourself laugh at it. The Mayo Clinic verifies that laughter can release stress and reduce tension in your body. All of these things can lead to more patience since you will likely feel less stressed and ready to explode. Also, laughing can improve your mood, which will undoubtedly increase your patience. So, laugh, my friends, laugh.
7. Practice empathy. When you find yourself becoming impatient with someone, imagine yourself as that person. Lamberg claims that “when you are patient with others, you learn tolerance and are better able to understand the feelings of others.” This makes sense. If you imagine yourself as the person you’re becoming impatient with, then you can visualize how you would want to be treated if you were that person. For example, let’s take coffee baristas. Those poor people have to memorize about one hundred and nine different drinks. That’s not even counting the special orders and seasonal “secret” drinks. Now, imagine yourself as one of those baristas. You’ve got a huge line, people are running late, they’re ready to strangle someone because they haven’t had their caffeine fix yet, and you’ve just forgotten the java chips in a drink and have to remake it. Yeah . . . I definitely need to be more patient with baristas.
Also, I think that we should have a long-term memory skills competition between American baristas and London taxi drivers who are purported to have some of the best long-term memory skills in the world and have bigger hippocampi than the majority of the population. True story. My money is on the baristas.
8. Don’t expect perfection. This one is from Tate’s article, but Lamberg says something similar by stating that you have to be realistic about a situation. This is particularly true for being patient with yourself. I’m horrible with this. I often expect that I get things right and perfect, particularly when I’m dealing with schoolwork or my professional work. I make daily to-do lists that are twenty or thirty items long, and I get impatient with myself when I’m not moving quickly through that list. Yet, I’m human. Humans make mistakes. Humans fail (click here to read some motivational and comforting words on failure). I think that we forget that part of learning patience is learning to be patient with others and ourselves. If we show ourselves the kindness that we show others, then maybe we’ll be more patient with ourselves. So, I guess that #8 should have an addendum: Be kind to yourself.
“8 Ways Patience Improves Your Health—and Tricks to Keeping It” by Erica Lamberg
“How to Be More Patient” by Ashley Tate
“How to Be Patient: Staying Calm Under Pressure”
“Stress Relief from Laughter? It’s No Joke”
“Taxi Drivers’ Brains ‘Grow’ on the Job”