I used to be the queen of doing everything yesterday. I’d want the kitchen retiled, the new car delivered, the bad fringe grown out, right now. I couldn’t wait for anything. Terrible. Then my recent history made me fall in love with something that used to be my enemy, the boring virtue that could be your new best friend: patience.
Getting cancer, going through treatment (hellish at times) and rebuilding my life and health has turned me into someone new. Maybe someone better, who knows. Time will tell. But definitely someone who is much more patient these days and has more patience with the concept of patience!
In her book Phosphorescence, author Julia Baird writes about the quietness and calmness of Australia’s indigenous people. Julia reminds us that Aboriginal culture teaches us to be patient and still, to concentrate, and be aware of our surroundings. To watch the sunset and sunrise, to await the rain that waters the thirsty earth, to be patient – such as in the bush – where patience might reward us with the appearance of that special bird or animal. It’s a beautiful old system of beliefs and one I’m cultivating.
I’d love to say, ‘here are my strategies to develop patience, fast’. But of course, by its nature patience is a slow burn. A treat you have to wait for. It can’t be found overnight. Still, there are ways to start building a patient foundation and creating it within your life and business if you’re prepared to put in the time.
- Practice mindfulness. By being fully present in the moment, you can quiet your mind and reduce the negative thoughts and emotions that trigger impatience. Practices like yoga, meditation or deep breathing can help develop patience.
- Set realistic expectations for yourself and others. Impatience often stems from expecting things to happen too easily or quickly. Then we become frustrated and lose patience.
- Take breaks. If you’re faced with a challenge, a short walk, reading a book for 10 minutes or even just closing your eyes for a quick break can help you stay calm and patient.
- Speaking of challenges … embrace them. They often test patience. Instead of feeling frustrated, embrace adversity as a chance to learn, grow and develop resilience.
- Cultivate gratitude. When you focus on the good stuff in life, you can reduce feelings of resentment and unhappiness that trigger impatience. Keep a gratitude journal if that’s your thing, or just think of three things every day that you’re grateful for.
- Be kind to yourself. When you are, you can reduce the feelings of stress and anxiety that can trigger impatience. Show yourself the same understanding you’d show a friend.
Most of all, remember it’s not a race. Patience is a virtue that takes time, effort and dedication to develop. Don’t rush it!