PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE
“Patience is the companion of wisdom.”—Saint Augustine
You’re sitting in traffic because of an unexpected accident and you have an important meeting to get to. You start sweating, your hands tighten around the steering wheel, and your heart beats faster. Suddenly, you start yelling at the car in front of you. You know it’s not their fault but you can’t help it… You’re late!
Does this sound familiar?
It may be hard to practice patience in this fast-paced, high-pressure life but developing this quality is necessary for happiness and well-being. Impatience can lead to anger and rage, compromising your relationships, elevating blood pressure and contributing to stress-related illnesses (which include pretty much any disease you can think of).
Patience creates a sense of peace and calmness, allows you to act more mindfully and wisely, and keeps you working towards a goal. It also improves your relationship with others and makes you a better person to work with and be around. Most importantly, it’s better for your health!
How can you practice patience?
The first step is to be aware of your impatience in the first place. Notice how your body reacts. Some signs and symptoms include:
- Shallow restricted breathing
- Heart beating faster and stronger
- Hands and/or jaw clenching
- Muscles tightening
- Restless feet or finger tapping
- Yelling/snapping at others
Once you are aware, you can then consciously manage your symptoms and emotions. Choose to be patient by using the following tips:
- Count to 10 (or more!)
- Close your eyes and take at least 3 deep breaths. (Please only close your eyes if it is safe to do so.)
- Relax your muscles, starting from the top of your head and face, progressing down to your neck/shoulders/arms/hands to your back and legs all the way down to your toes.
- Evaluate the situation. Remind yourself that your impatience isn’t going to get anyone to move any faster. On the contrary, it only causes more stress for yourself and others and will interfere with people’s ability to perform optimally. Identify and reflect on the possible root cause your impatience. Is it hunger or fatigue? Or a feeling of self-inadequacy?
- Find something positive about the situation. Be grateful for the opportunity to practice patience!
So, next time you’re feeling frantic and irritated, just stop. Breathe. And be patient. All of a sudden, you’ll feel so much better.