Patience is a virtue that not many of us seem to have. But I believe if we see it as a skill that can be acquired, it won’t be all that hard to be patient, both with people and situations.
Here are three ways to be patient that have worked for me:
1. Find worthwhile things to do while waiting for an undesirable situation to pass
I seldom get frustrated during traffic jams (unless I am late for an important event). It’s because I get to listen to my favourite CDs, and sometimes I make use of the time to learn a foreign language by playing an audio CD. And everytime I go to the bank, or anywhere that I may be required to wait, I usually have a book with me.
2. Practise counting to five before reacting when someone else’s actions rub us the wrong way
With enough practice we can make responding thoughtfully (instead of reacting viscerally) a habit. Walking away to give ourselves some space to regain rational thinking also works — if only we would just do this instead of giving in to the temptation to react.
3. Celebrate progress no matter how small, and see setbacks as part and parcel of the journey
This especially applies when we are waiting for major changes to take place or goals to materialize, like recovering from an illness, repairing strained relationships, losing weight, getting an MBA, and getting out of debt.
It’s like solving a big, complicated jigsaw puzzle. It’s exciting to fit a piece correctly, but there will be times when we get it wrong and then have to go back to the pile to search again for the correct piece. If we see every setback as part of the journey towards the end goal, we will be able to embrace the long haul more optimistically.
So being patient is actually not that difficult. We just have to find the right things and the right attitude to give us a sense of momentum–because as long as we feel progress no matter how small, we will cease to be frustrated.