How to work on your patience

How patient are you? You more than likely fall into one of three categories:

  • Super patient: You are a master of killing time when necessary. You are not phased by the idea of a 10-hour layover. You will get there when you get there. Patience is part of the journey, after all.
  • Moderately patient: While a lack of food and sleep might irritate you at times, you can handle waiting it out for the long haul. Slow, never-ending lines get on your nerves, but you don’t let anyone know about it.
  • Not patient at all: You hear the words “15 minute wait” and you’re pissed. Your time is the most valuable thing in the universe, so there will be no “waiting.” Your attitude gets worse the more patient you are asked to be. That asshole who just asked you to “please be patient” has it coming!

Which scenario seems the most enjoyable to you?

We’d all like to think we’re super patient, but rarely is this the case. Some people who think they have a “go with the flow” attitude can get temperamental and downright annoying the moment a wrench is thrown into the system. I’ve seen it happen it a million times.

Over the years, I’ve gone from “Not Patient At All” to “Super Patient.” And I’m not trying to brag. It took a ton of hard work to change!

The littlest thing would set me off back in my not-so-patient days. I was so easily annoyed and grouchy when things didn’t go smoothly. Waiting on anything to happen seemed to take an eternity—plenty of time to pout and generally make life for the people around me unbearable.

I can’t recall exactly what it was, but something clicked. I do remember thinking I didn’t have to be such an impatient jerk when things weren’t going my way.

So I decided to change.

And it took every ounce of patience I possessed to get through certain situations. There were times when I thought I wasn’t cut out for being a patient person. My bad temper would constantly attempt to take over. But I stuck it out.

Over time, I developed a few improvement techniques:

  • Breathe: You know that constrictive feeling you get in your chest when you’re super impatient and things are only getting worse? It probably has something to do with the fact that you’re not breathing properly.
  • Ignore it all: This one did wonders for me. I learned how to tune out undesirable situations. My patience thanked me for it.
  • Focus on the positive: So you’re stuck in a bus station for 12 hours? Oh well. That’s a great people watching opportunity. Plus there’s plenty of time to explore.
  • Find good company: Ever notice how a group of pissed off impatient people become more pissed off and impatient around each other? Well, the same is true if you’re hanging with a couple of chill cats without a care in the world.
  • Don’t dwell: You’re in trouble when you have hours to contemplate what it is that’s testing your patience. Take a walk. Smoke a cigar. Play chess with your buddy. Don’t dwell.

I’d love to hear what kind of person you are—super patient, moderately patient, or not patient at all. If you fall into the super to moderately patient category, were you always that way, or did you work to get there?

If you fall into the “crabby ass, totally impatient, get out of my way or you will die category,” have you thought about what it might take to change?