Mastering Patience. . .

We all know that patience is a virtue. But how can we have more of it in our lives?

There are plenty of things that lead to impatience in our daily lives. Maybe a toxic colleague is bothering you, your boss passed you up on that promotion again, or your team isn’t performing the way you’d like. You might even be impatient with yourself. If you’re not performing the way you’d like, it’s easy to fall into a spiral of self-doubt and frustration.

These things are enough to make you feel fed up. But while it’s easy to lash out at your colleagues or beat yourself up, these things will only hurt you in the long run. Before these things become your stress story, let’s find ways to stay calm. This will help you make smarter decisions, improve your mental well-being, and help you solve the problem rather than make it worse. 

The first thing you need to know is many people feel impatient. In a study involving nearly 3,000 participants, 45% of participants said they feel less patient than they did five years ago. And they blame technology. Instant gratification is at the core of most social media, providing users with approving “likes” and “shares.” Each response gives you a quick fix of dopamine, one of the brain chemicals responsible for pleasure. But here’s the problem – The more we crave attention online, the less satisfying it becomes. Our brains get used to it until it’s no longer thrilling. And when we don’t receive our thrills, we become tired, irritable, and impatient.

Social media isn’t the only culprit. We live in an age where all human knowledge is available at our fingertips — no question remains unanswered. And we’re used to low-effort, high-reward scenarios. How much dopamine will be released when we do something affects how likely we are to do it. We can also order just about anything to our door. And if we can’t, there’s a superstore nearby that probably has what we need.  These days even dating apps are designed to target your dopamine production to keep you on the apps. But being impatient increases your stress, which can cause health problems. Chronic stress triggers weight gain, high blood pressure, and potential cardiovascular issues. That doesn’t even begin to cover what a life without positive thinking will do to your mental health.

So how do we have more patience in life?

We have to fight this urge for instant gratification. Depending on the context, some methods will work better than others. A long line a the grocery store, traffic jams, rude family members — all of these daily hassles can send your heart rate through the roof. But for now, here are some general tips on how to become more patient in life. Keep these in mind next time you feel yourself growing frustrated.

Reframe the issue – When you’re in an irritating situation, try to think about why it bothers you. Once you identify the reason, you can reframe the issue so it’s less cumbersome. For example, if you find yourself waiting for a co-worker who is 15-minutes late, take it as an opportunity to read or catch up on emails. Maybe you can listen to a podcast in those few minutes to help relax. Turn that negative into a positive.

Practice mindfulness – Of course, identifying your feelings requires a certain degree of mindfulness. You can practice this technique by closing your eyes, taking a deep breath, and examining your thoughts and emotions. Naming them will prevent them from overpowering you.

Show gratitude – People who show gratitude cope better with delayed gratification. Next time you’re frustrated, think of something you’re grateful for. This will help calm you down so you can make better decisions. 

Practice acceptance – Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to change a situation. In those cases, impatience solves nothing. Once you accept the conditions of the present moment, everything becomes more bearable.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable – Little acts of self-control can help you get used to discomfort. For example, trying to avoid scratching an itch. This will help you build the discipline to be a more patient person.

Slow down – Your deadlines probably aren’t as rigid as you think. If you’re feeling rushed, ask your superiors if you can take more time to complete a task. Otherwise, you risk producing shoddy work or cracking in the heat of the moment.

Try to have fun – Daily life is a lot less irritating when you imagine it as a sitcom. Many stressful situations are inherently funny, so don’t take things too seriously. Laughing will help you find how to be more patient and less angry.

Improve your listening skills – Active listening is an important tactic in how to be more patient with others. When you hear their concerns, you’ll be more compassionate. This kind of emotional intelligence will help you keep your cool. Remember, it’s not all about you – In some ways, impatience is a selfish mindset. Remember that you’re part of something bigger: a world full of people with their own worries, ambitions, and perspectives. When you put yourself in their shoes, you’ll have less to be frustrated about. Everyone is going through something you don’t know.

Sort your own baggage – Your impatience might be rooted in past experiences or traumas. Working through them will help you let go of negative emotions feeding your annoyance.

Examine your core beliefs and values – Everyone has their own set of core values and beliefs. Make sure you’re not projecting yours onto others. Because when you do, you’re asking them to conform to an ideal they don’t necessarily share. This expectation isn’t fair to you or them. 

Most of the above advice will help you at work, too. But from toxic bosses to poor teammates, jobs add a layer of stress that requires different tactics. Our patience gets tried at work in a couple of ways: 1) People disappoint us. Other people and personalities work differently and sometimes that’s frustrating, annoying, or just confusing. 2) Leaders, the organization, or our own performance disappoints us. We have career goals and expectations, and the opportunities and recognition available at work don’t always match. 

Here are some extra tips on how to be patient at work.

Strive for realistic work goals – If your goals are too ambitious, it’s normal to fail. We know this is frustrating. But if you break your long-term goals into smaller milestones, you’re more likely to achieve them. This sense of progress will help you improve your long-term patience. Also, adopt some grace and flexibility. With an uncertain economy and what feels like massive changes in the world month to month, your leaders might keep changing priorities, and your manager might not be able to give you the clear promotion plan you want. While your needs and preferences matter, you’ll build better relationships if you show awareness of larger realities, too.

Be kinder to yourself – You might be putting too much pressure on yourself to perform. When you do this, you increase your stress levels and the likelihood of becoming impatient. Accept that mistakes happen, learn from them, and move on. Show yourself the compassion you would your best friend.

Improve your work-life balance – In most workplaces, you are expected to work productively with a range of other people, each with their own peculiarities and styles. This diversity is a gift — if you approach it right, you can learn more and achieve better outcomes than if you were working by yourself or with a handful of people just like you. But, adopting this type of mindset and figuring out how best to work together takes energy, time, and patience. All work and no play make you an impatient person. Make sure to find time to rest. If you burn yourself out, you’re more likely to be frustrated with your colleagues.

Focus on priority tasks –  Use the Pareto principle (or the 80/20 rule) to organize your to-do list by impact. Prioritize the 20% of tasks that contribute to most of your productivity. Doing this will help you reduce stress and thus improve your patience.

While patience is a virtue, it’s important to know its limits. It’s not an ideal reaction for every scenario. You need to be assertive and stand up for yourself when other people cross the line. Otherwise, you let people off the hook for bad behavior. Remember this – Patience doesn’t mean a lack of accountability. Believe it or not, you can hold people accountable without losing patience. In fact, doing so can make you a more effective and charismatic leader. Let’s face it. Most of us don’t  like being impatient. Irritation and frustration are not good feelings. But you don’t have to feel that way. You can develop your patience to thrive in the face of adversity. Patience is a key component of self-control and emotional regulation. And mastering your impulses will help you in your journey of personal growth. 

Peace and Love, Jim

#patience #thedailybuddha

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