Students, friends, and random people I talk to in elevators tell me they need more patience. Most of us do. I’m creating a course called “5-day Path to Patience” that will be offered first to subscribers (if you’re not a subscriber, click the word HOME, to the left above this article, and enter your info in the “stay connected” box).
Here’s a sneak-peek: one of the tools for growing in patience that I’ll share in the course — and it really works!
Learn to enjoy it
What?! Enjoy being stuck in traffic? Enjoy being on hold?
Well, yes – here are ways you can enjoy waiting:
A woman named Tessa fell asleep on a long train trip and rode over 2 hours past her station. This meant she would be 3 hours late for work and have to go through a mess to pick up her luggage, which had already been unloaded at her intended stop. After she got on a train going back the other way, she realized she had two choices: to stew about how much time she’d lost or to treat that time as a gift of extra time to do something she enjoyed.
In other words, she shifted her focus. Instead of re-playing the irritation in her mind, she listened to her favorite music and read a book.
What’s in it for me?
If we find it hard to pry our minds off of what’s annoying us, it may be worth asking ourselves what we’re getting out of staying mad. Psychologists call this “secondary gain” – some benefit we feel from being upset.
- Do we feel superior to another person?
- Does thinking about someone else’s failings help us ignore our own?
- Does stewing about lost time puff up our own importance?
It’s something to think about.
Another way to say it
It’s been said that the secret of patience is to do something else in the meantime. Here are two examples.
- In a long grocery store line, we can notice whether someone in line looks like they need a kind word or a prayer.
- At a long stop light, reflect on something thoughtful you could do for a family member or a friend.
Author Annie Lebowitz humorously wrote that she spends her spare time plotting revenge. Even if we can relate to that a little, it’s not the best long-term plan for happiness!
Notice how you’re spending the time during your next unexpected wait. If you find your thoughts all start with the word “I” or that you’re mulling over someone else’s shortcomings, interrupt that by giving the person next to you a kind word or calling to mind something you’re grateful for. We can each be the pebble in the pond that lifts the mood of everyone around us.