Patience is a practice that imbues our life with inner peace, but with today’s fast pace of fast food and fast fashion, we are losing our patience faster than ever.
If you find yourself frustrated in traffic jams, irritated in queues, or angry with yourself for not getting things right the first time, read on and discover how cultivating patience will improve your daily life.
WHAT DOES HAVING PATIENCE MEAN?
Patience is a quality, capacity, or habit of being at ease when things don’t go our way. It’s the ability in life to remain calm in stressful situations and daily hassles instead of allowing frustration to get the better of us.
Its opposite is impatience. We all have expectations and agendas that we want fulfilled, and impatience sets in when they don’t get filled on our terms.
The problem is that we don’t control most of what happens in life. In fact, one of the only things we truly have control over is our response to the world. And we can choose to respond with patience or impatience.
WHY DO WE SAY, “PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE”?
The word virtue is used to describe something that has a beneficial quality or moral excellence.
While many might be mistaken in thinking that patience will get you nowhere in a world where fast is worshipped, the opposite is true. The value of patience is that it has a beneficial quality and a positive impact on our lives.
In contrast, impatience has a destructive effect on our lives and relationships.
The act of having patience is an act of allowing and surrendering. It is allowing the universe to respond to our agenda. So instead of chasing our agenda on our terms, we set our agenda with intention, and we surrender to what the world wants to offer. We let the universe work for us. But this is easier said than done, so patience is a virtue.
THE VALUE OF PATIENCE
When we practice patience, we find ourselves at ease with the world, ourselves, and the people around us. No matter what is going on outside, no matter how much chaos or confusion, our inner world is not touched by delays, mishaps, and inconveniences. We live in a state of zen and peace.
FEELING IMPATIENT CAUSES NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
We are often impatient. We want immediate results. We want to get home now, we want that project to materialize now, and we want our pizza delivered now. We want the world to bow to our desires and agenda.
We also want to fulfill our goal so that we can move on to the next thing. It is a very egoic way of living, constantly geared to the next moment instead of living in the present moment.
And if anything gets in the way of our agenda, we get frustrated and irritable, and we start to lash out at others.
PATIENCE IS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE
While impatience is an egoic trait, patience is a spiritual trait or practice. It requires us to be humble, courteous, polite, respectful, and unassuming. It requires a commitment to be in the present moment and to accept it as it is. To be with whatever is arising in that moment. It’s not an easy practice but one worth pursuing if we want to improve our daily lives.
HOW PATIENCE IMPROVES OUR DAILY LIVES
PATIENCE IMPROVES OUR HEALTH
When we are impatient, we go into fight or flight, which harms our physical and mental health. For example, our blood pressure rises, our immune system shuts down, and we release stressor hormones.
In contrast, patience keeps our nervous system in the rest and digest mode. This helps the body heal and digest and is beneficial for our mental health. In addition, research has shown that patient people are generally happier, more satisfied, less stressed, and experience more gratitude.
PATIENCE IMPROVES OUR RELATIONSHIPS
In being patient, we create space and start to feel spacious. Being present in the now, our thoughts turn from our own agenda to the plights and challenges of others. We become better listeners, and we start to feel compassion and connection. Our physiology responds in positive ways, and the people around us respond to that creative space in positive ways too. Given a choice, we'd all rather be around a patient person than an impatient person - it's just a nicer experience. Practicing patience makes strong relationships.
PATIENCE IMPROVES OUR GOAL OUTCOMES
When our patience is directed towards ourselves, we create that space within ourselves. We give ourselves permission to make mistakes, be creative and grow. That same compassion we felt for others is now directed towards ourselves, and we dare to have another go instead of giving up and moving on to something else.
When we have patience, we keep going largely unaffected by the obstacles and challenges, which means we reach our goals. It also means we might have taken a different route, been on an adventure, and learned lessons along the way.
We have more self-control, satisfaction, and self-confidence because we succeeded at our goal without letting our emotions sabotage us.
And the cherry on the cake? With patience, we give the universe an opportunity to respond, and sometimes it responds in ways we can't even begin to imagine.
PATIENCE IS LEARNED, AND A CHOICE
When we understand patience and impatience as responses to how life is unfolding, we can choose patience over impatience. Valuing presence and beingness and trusting in the universe and the adventure of life enables us to develop more patience.
Patience is a spiritual practice closely linked to mindfulness. We cultivate patience by being mindful and trusting the universe.
It's not about trusting the universe to unfold exactly as we desire but signing up for the adventure of the unknown and the bigger picture of which we may never be aware.
PRACTICING PATIENCE WITH MINDFULNESS
We can do this by listening to our inner voice. When we have patience, our inner voice is nurturing, kind, encouraging, and forgiving. When we are impatient, it is aggressive and unforgiving.
Being mindful of our thoughts and moving into our body when we start to feel impatient can help ease the anger, stress, and frustration we feel when we are impatient with ourselves and others.
We can cultivate patience by adopting some mindfulness techniques and a new perspective on life.
4 TIPS FOR PRACTICING PATIENCE
- Slow down, pack less in, and enjoy the moment
- Let go of control and be open to whatever arises in the moment
- Listen to your inner voice and change its narrative
- Movie into our body and explore where impatience is coming from
- Take a deep breath, expand your awareness and be present
The importance of patience in our lives and those around us means it's a skill worth developing. More patient people in the world means more kindness, less suffering, better mental health, and stronger relationships.
So next time you're in those pesky rush hour traffic jams, stay calm, be patient, and know that good things come to those who wait!