Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: What is the best way to practice patience? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.
I’ve been embarrassingly impatient. I’ve yelled at customer service reps at Ikea for being too slow, etc. At the time, I was working my butt off and couldn’t enjoy the time I wasn’t working because I was so impatient and rude everywhere I went. I honked at cars, and cursed slow drivers on the road. I was miserable, and so were the people around me. They could just feel my impatience. It was that bad.
Recently, however, I went to the dentist and while I was checking in, the receptionist asked me how I was doing. I smiled, said good, grabbed a magazine, and sat down. Then I asked her how her day was going. She smiled at me and said I was the first person to come in all day who didn’t come in complaining about the traffic and impatiently asking if they were next.
So, what steps can you take to practice patience?
Here are a few things that worked for me:
1. Cut out toxic people
The people you hang around have a tremendous impact on your life. It’s really hard to overstate how much being around jerks will make you impatient. Toxic people who constantly e-mail, text, guilt, and berate you will zap all of your patience. Stay away from them.
Spend your time with people who make you feel better. Life will be much simpler, and you’ll be much more calm and patient when you are surrounded by good people who have your best interests in mind.
If you can’t completely cut out toxic life-complicators (family, managers, or co-workers, etc.), don’t stoop to their level. Ignore toxic people as much as possible. Don’t waste time gossiping or fighting. Don’t talk badly about these people behind their back, it usually gets back to them, and will create drama. All of this will zap your energy, and leave you with much less patience for everything else in your life.
2. Release expectations
Don’t expect too much from other people. Everyone reacts differently to situations, and you never know what the other person is thinking. It’s easy to get impatient by assuming other people can read your mind. Don’t do it. Also just because you do things a certain way, don’t expect other people to do things the way you do. Don’t get impatient with people for being themselves.
Similarly, don’t promise what you can’t deliver. It’s really hard to go back on your word. And once you’ve promised something, it creates stress.
The more you’ve promised and the more expectations on your shoulders, the more impatient you are likely to be. Say no more often and only commit to what you can really handle, and to what you want to do.
You only have so much energy. Use it wisely. You are likely to feel impatient when you feel you have more to do, than time to do it.
3. Don’t run late or procrastinate
It’s easy to feel impatient when you are running late. Time never goes slower than when you need to be somewhere and are stuck in traffic. 30 seconds can seem like half an hour.
So, if you are known to run late, make an effort to be on time or early.
Similarly, don’t procrastinate. If there is something that you have to do, just get it over with. It causes impatience when you feel like there is something hanging over your head. The calm and relaxed mind is a more patient mind, so prioritize what you need to do, and do the most important things first thing. Waiting till the last minute to do something important causes unnecessary stress, and impatience.