I had always thought of myself as patient person, that is, until I actually became a patient person. The day I began to consciously practice more patience is the day I realized I was not patient at all. I would quickly jump to conclusions about situations, became defensive for unknown / unwarranted reasons, and became irritated by the littlest of things. I always believed patience was my ability to wait for something, and, by definition, it technically is, but it’s so much more than that. It’s opening yourself up to the moment, remaining present, and practicing empathy / tolerance toward others.
Patience is not the ability to wait but how you act while you’re waiting.
Here is the list of the 4 major changes / insights I have experienced since focusing more on practicing patience:
1. Improved Relationships: Friends and Colleagues
I have become less defensive, irritated and combative when it comes to my friends and colleagues. I have shifted from the predominant speaker to the predominant listener. In meetings and social gatherings I would often find myself thinking of the next thing I was going to say, instead of being attentive and listening to what the others were saying. This, in many ways, hindered my ability to be truly effective. I would continuously jump to conclusions which would cloud my judgement. I was not being present.
Patience has taught me many lessons, but I believe the best lesson was it’s okay not to know everything. It seems weird that practicing patience taught me a lesson seemingly unrelated to patience, but being patient helped open the door to that personal discovery. It opened my mind to discover new things about myself. My brain is no longer clouded by distractions. I am now able to see moments for what they truly are, not how my pre-occupied / pre-judgmental mind perceived them.
2. Don’t sweat the little things / This too shall pass
It’s easy to become frustrated over that crying baby on the airplane or that driver that cut you off this morning, but by practicing patience you will begin to feel more empathy. The Mother and Father of that child crying on the plane are probably more stressed in the situation than you are. A tolerance for this type of situation allows your body to remain calm and relaxed. Is getting upset over the situation going to help in any way? The answer is no. By allowing yourself to get upset or angry, you are only doing harm to yourself. Take a breath, remain patient, and let the moment pass you by.
3. Positive Attitude
With patience comes an overwhelming feeling of positivity. You are no longer reactive to situations or caught dwelling on past situations (often times leading to stress or other negative feelings). You live in the moments and you see how they truly are. Not 5 minutes ago. Not 5 minutes from now. You recognize the situation for what it is, at the present moment. That is a powerful thing.
Stress and anxiety have some pretty serious effects to your overall health (not good ones). Stress alone has been scientifically linked to a number of serious health problems including, but not limited to, heart disease, depression, obesity, accelerated aging, premature death, the list goes on.
By opening yourself up to the idea of patience, you become less stressed, less agitated, less irritable, less everything negative really. Sure you will find yourself experiencing these emotions, but they will no longer be over the petty things that once brought those feelings on. They will be grounded in true situations where you’re justified in feeling so. Remember, no emotion is constant. The ebbs-and-flows are needed in our experiences.