Living Gently: A 30-Day Challenge: The Art of Patience

Mac McCleary once said, “Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead.” Every day, we find a situation in which we need to exercise patience. However, in my observation of our “fast food” society, we have become so accustomed to instant gratification that the art of patience is quickly becoming… well, a lost art.

Admit it – how many of you have wondered why 30 seconds takes so long when you’re waiting for something to heat up in the microwave? Or gotten impatient when the person ahead of you in line had an extra question for the bank teller? Or huffed and puffed while your significant other ran back into the house for something they forgot?

Have you ever thought, “I really need to pray for more patience?” Actually – that’s not the kind of advice you’ll ever get from me. It’s a long-standing joke between me and some of my friends that one should never pray for patience, because if you do, God will put you in situations in which to test it. Instead, one should pray for strength. (Being a mother of a teenager has forced me to become well-acquainted with that prayer for strength versus a prayer for patience!)

No matter what challenges you’re facing in your life, if you’re looking for ways to develop patience, consider these ideas to help you find ways to put patience into practice every day:

  • Decide why you’re in such a hurry. Is the extra minute or two waiting in line going to really make or break your entire day’s schedule?
  • Breathe. It seems silly, perhaps even cliché. But the wonders of a deep, cleansing breath can really not be underestimated!
  • Identify a distraction… when you’re in a situation in which you have to be patient, play a game on your phone… crack your knuckles (WAIT! That might sound menacing!)… count the ceiling tiles. Just do something to get your mind off of whatever is frustrating you.
  • Put yourself in situations in which you will practice patience so that exercising it won’t be such a big deal, i.e., don’t use the drive-through – park the car and walk in. Get in the long line at the grocery store or let the person with a few items go in front of you.
  • Adopt the motto “Good things happen to those who wait.” That might not feel so encouraging if, for instance, you’re waiting in line at the DMV, but perhaps by being patient, you’ll be rewarded with an extra good license photo!
  • Learn to laugh. When you’re frustrated that things aren’t going as fast as you’d like, or the way you want or expect them to go, find something to laugh about. You’ll feel better and it will give you time to regroup. Anger is just going to slow things down.

Patience is learnable life skill, no matter how old you are. And it’s a lesson worth learning. Not only can you avoid potential problems, but you can also keep your blood pressure down and reap the health benefits of simply slowing down. There’s a Chinese proverb that states, “One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.” Next time you’re feeling impatience creep up on you, think of the benefits you can attain by being stronger than your frustration.