Things don’t always work out the way we want. Some days it feels like one step forward, is three steps back. People will disappoint us. There will be meltdowns. Big, unexpected expenses will come up. We will want things to happen sooner than they do. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always happen according to our plan.
So, what can we do when life gives us lemons? Practice patience. That’s right! (Not the answer you were expecting?) I first learned of this concept while I was working in sales with Aveda. I was driving around Minneapolis with one of my mentors. We were running late, traffic was slow and I was getting tense. He told me that there are many situations in life that are meant to allow us to “practice patience.” This was a big “aha” for me. Working in a job that requires a lot of driving can be dangerous and aggravating. Learning to practice patience behind the wheel is probably one of the reasons I never had a wreck in my eight years as a road warrior.
Much of life is not within our control. To get frustrated, angry and upset when we face delays, difficulties and annoyances just causes more distress. Being impatient increases stress hormones and blood pressure, ruins relationships, can cause poor choices and much more. Taking things personally doesn’t help either. When someone doesn’t return a call, it may not have anything to do with you. There may be a million reasons why someone couldn’t fit that into their day.
When things don’t go our way, for example getting stuck in the slowest line in the grocery, we think of the cause of our impatience as being external – what’s going on “out there.” Our impatience gets even worse when people, or the situation, aren’t meeting our expectations. The challenge with this is, our expectations are often out of synch with reality. I’ve seen many people lose their minds at airport ticket counters when their flight was cancelled. No amount of yelling at the gate agent is going to make that plane take off.
The true cause of our impatience is what’s going on in our minds – it is our response to the situation, not the situation itself. Of course, the only thing we can truly control is how we respond to situations. Granted, this is easier to talk about then to do. It will take practice to let things happen in their own time. Lots of practice. Here are some ideas about how to cultivate more patience in your life.
I promise the hard work is worth it. You’ll be happier and much more relaxed. Practicing patience allows us to act with grace in situations where we’d normally lose our temper. This inner strength is what gives us genuine power, lasting progress and makes us more fun to be around.