They say that patience is a virtue. Many would reply that it is a virtue they do not possess.
The world seems to move at an ever increasing pace with the interconnectivity that we have through social media and our smartphones.
So many people are in such a rush to get to where they are going that they lose themselves along the way.
Patience is a valuable skill to develop and hone because most things of quality require time to cultivate and grow.
Most everyone can benefit from having a bit more patience in their life, whether it’s in their personal relationships or trying to be successful in the workplace.
How can we develop more patience in an impatient world?
Take regular and scheduled breaks from smartphone use.
The smartphone is an amazing innovation that provides so many benefits to our everyday life.
We can access a world’s worth of knowledge with just a few keystrokes, our friends and family are easily accessible, and we are often instantly accessible to the people in our lives.
This is not necessarily a good thing.
Researchers are steadily uncovering connections between smartphones, smartphone addiction, and internet addiction and the structure of the brain.
The more people use their smartphones, the more their brains change to desire instant gratification.
Threats can range from exploitative apps that use addiction psychology to encourage regular game play and in-app purchases, to getting attention via social media.
Being glued to your phone can make you anxious, it can impact your relationships, and it can cause problems at work and damage your career prospects.
Smartphones, like everything, are best used in moderation.
Disconnect from your smartphone from time to time. Turn it off at night. Don’t carry it around with you all day. Uninstall social media or gaming apps if you find yourself regularly checking in or devoting your time to playing games an abnormal amount.
You don’t need to answer every phone call, text message, email, or social media comment immediately.
They can wait.
The world’s not going to end or stop. Your smartphone is for your convenience, not for everyone else to reach you at their own whims.
The way that smartphones have integrated into our lives has made everyone less patient, especially as the lines between our personal and professional lives have blurred.
Not feeding that beast so regularly will put more patience and calmness into your mind and your life.
Force yourself to slow down and take your time.
Do you find yourself running around constantly? Always off to some function or activity? Always trying to get the next thing done to stay ahead of the curve?
Guess what? That is a hamster wheel that never stops spinning.
There are always more things to see, do, or accomplish. There are always more chores, more housework, more responsibilities. It never ends.
You must pace yourself.
Yes, things need to get done. No one is suggesting you shouldn’t do the things that are essential or urgent.
But what does your pacing look like? Are you always doing something? Is your schedule so packed that you never get a moment of peace and quiet to yourself?
Parents often face the difficult task of balancing time to themselves with devotion to their kids.
Many people want their kids to be able to experience everything they would like, but that is hard to keep up with if you are trying to hold down a job or maintain a clean and tidy household.
Some parents decide to limit their kids to one extracurricular activity so that they can actually have a little breathing room for themselves.
Are there any unessential activities that you can eliminate from your day?
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Use a schedule to structure your day.
An inefficient use of your time can prevent you from finding a comfortable stride that works for you.
A schedule that you adhere to can provide the necessary structure to make better use of the time you have.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and rushed when we don’t allocate enough time for the various things we need to accomplish.
That, in turn, feeds our impatience. You may feel like you are constantly needing to get things done right now, at this moment, because you simply don’t have the time to spare to inefficiency or a wrench getting thrown into your plans.
Your own mind betrays you, urging you to get things done now, now, now because there may not be time for it later.
A schedule can help you better organize and smooth out the whole process of getting things done, lowering your stress levels, as well as that impending need to constantly be busy working on tasks.
Delay gratification of immediate desires.
A good way to build patience is to delay your own gratification of your immediate wants.
When you want something, stop and take the time to really think about whether or not you actually need it.
And if you don’t, hold off on doing the thing or making the purchase.
Impulse shopping is a significant problem for people who thrive off instant gratification. It is so easy to jump on the internet and buy even the most obscure things from just about anywhere in the world.
But the question then becomes – do you actually need the thing? Or are you just feeding this impulsive desire to have the thing?
Feeding the desire is bad because it nurtures the feelings associated with instant gratification, which leads to a negative effect on one’s ability to be patient.
The mind can start constantly craving the need for bigger and better gratifications, like a person chasing an adrenaline rush by engaging in riskier and riskier activities.
Delaying gratification and pleasure-seeking is a core concept in philosophies like Buddhism and Stoicism. It helps one develop patience and frees oneself from impulsive feelings.
Dedicate a regular day to practicing patience.
The idea behind dedicating a regular day to practicing patience is to develop the habit. As this habit begins to strengthen, you can add more days and make patience a core part of your personality.
Does that sound simple? It might, but it’s not so easy when you’re trying to stick to a consistent schedule and make it a part of you. It’s a simple habit, but it’s not easy.
A day of patience entails forcing yourself to not make snap decisions, not respond to messages or comments without thinking, and not doing anything in the course of your day without deliberation.
As you undertake the activities of your day, you strive to not multitask. You focus your mind on the task at hand, right in front of you, and you finish it to the best of your ability.
That may be sinking hours into a work project or it might be taking a shower while forcing yourself to not think of everything you still need to do when you get out.
This type of practice is an important part of mindfulness.
It may help to sit down at the end of the day and hand write a journal entry on your day, how you practiced patience, room for improvements, and what you feel you did well.
Hand writing a journal is, in itself, a practice in patience. It’s a bit challenging to crank out 80+ words per minute with a pen! The simple act of hand writing a journal entry also allows you to slow your mind down, focus, and be in the moment – all important parts of developing more patience.
Patience is not a weakness.
There is an attitude out there that not acting quickly can be a sign of weakness.
That is false.
Impulsiveness and instant gratification rarely leads to good or lasting results. It does have its time and place, but it shouldn’t be a regular part of your day.
A methodical approach gives you time to consider the options, avoid hurt feelings by being wary of the words to come out of your mouth, and unwind the anxiety and stress of everyday life by simply slowing things down.
Patience is a choice, a great strength that gives you more control over your own life, destiny, and peace of mind.
Practice it now. Practice it daily. Just slow down and practice.