Sometimes I feel as though I go through the entire day waiting. Waiting for the waiter to bring my food to the table, waiting for the red light to turn green, waiting for the grocery line to get shorter.
Immediate gratification and impatience are signs of our younger selves shouting out, “My turn!”
We’re all just trying to get more comfortable, but in the process, we become impatient, and when we finally get what we want, there’s always something else that pops up for us to become impatient about.
So who’s going to win this battle? The irrational inner five-year-old or my mature self?
I know that if I spend my life waiting, circumstances will always determine my day, and I’ll continue to lose.
The more I practice it, the more I come to realize that patience is a choice. It’s not a character trait that most of us are born with.
Here are some useful tools that take almost no time but can dramatically increase patience levels. They’ve even given me a good laugh in the process of using them from time to time.
Let’s take a moment here to recognize the insignificance of a lot of the things that irritate us.
This one makes me laugh a bit. Whenever you feel impatient or anxious for something to happen, like a waiter to take your order at a restaurant, catch yourself.
Give yourself a quick comparison reminder: someone is about to cook food for you, serve that food to you on dishes that you don’t have to clean, dry, or put away, and also fill your water glass consistently without you even having to get out of your chair. If you were at home, you’d have to do all of this yourself.
Yet if a few minutes go by without attention, suddenly we forget all of this. Why ruin the dining experience just because of a few minutes of waiting? We’re going to pay the bill anyway, so what does being impatient do, other than bother us and make our meals and time less enjoyable?
Another comparison reminder: when you’re sitting in traffic, think about the fact that you’re sitting on a (hopefully) comfortable chair in a machine that most of us can’t even conceive of building, maneuvering four wheels that move backward, forward, make turns, and can take you WHEREVER you want to go.
It probably would’ve taken your ancestors months or years to get to where you’re going. They’d probably be riding on horseback, and their inner thighs would be numb and butts bruised within the first three miles of their journey.
Meanwhile, you can get to your destination in minutes or hours, all while listening to your favorite music and adjusting the temperature to whatever you desire.
Traffic doesn’t seem so bad when you consider that driving in a working vehicle on paved roads is what our ancestors would consider a miracle. It’s pretty comical when you actually think about it.
Laugh at yourself— it’ll help put things into perspective.
Prioritizing What Upsets You Most
The most patient people pick and choose what they’re willing to let frustrate them.
Ask yourself— is the feeling of frustration or impatience going to change the outcome of what happens?
Is anxiously waiting for your partner to stop talking so that you can get a word in going to help him/her hear your side of the story? Will anxiously waiting in traffic make it move any faster? Will anxiousness get your meal off the grill and onto your plate?
Pick your impatience. Prioritize what upsets you the most so that the little things don’t infiltrate your day.
Happiness isn’t one big life event after another. It’s a succession of small events scattered throughout our day, and it’s a choice of whether or not we’re going to wait through them or engage with and enjoy them.
Compare and prioritize. Depending on how much you apply this, it’ll increase your comfort levels, enhance your calm, and improve the relationships in your life.