Your daughter takes forever to put on her shoes. The person in front of you in the drive-thru apparently is ordering everything on the menu. As a deadline approaches, your work computer chooses that moment for a software update. Oh yeah, and the copier is jammed.
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Do life’s small and large annoyances make you feel like blowing your top? OK, you know the annoyances aren’t going away. So maybe it’s time to cultivate more patience.
Contrary to what you may believe, patience isn’t solely the domain of kindergarten teachers and saints. It’s a skill that everyone can develop and strengthen.
“It’s kind of like dancing,” explains clinical psychologist Scott Bea, PsyD. “Some people are naturally better at it than others, but everyone can improve with practice.”
If you feel like you’re becoming less patient in recent years, you’re not alone. Cultural shifts — particularly when it comes to technology — have primed us to expect immediate gratification.
When we want to read a particular book, listen to a certain song or watch a popular TV show, most of the time those things are only a few clicks away.
An evening’s dinner — or a week’s groceries — can appear at our door in a flash.
“So many things are available to us instantly,” Dr. Bea says. “It’s increasingly common that we get things delivered to us quickly.”
And that’s bad news when it comes to our ability to wait patiently.
“Our expectations go up and then our level of patience goes down,” he says.
So how can you strengthen your patience muscles? The first step? Let’s just admit up front that it won’t be much fun at first.
“If we’re going to grow patience, it’s going to come from doing slightly uncomfortable things,” says Dr. Bea.
Ready to work on it? Here’s what he suggests if you want to become a more patient person:
No one says increasing your patience is easy. But, with daily practice, you may find you’re more calm, less frazzled and more willing to give others the benefit of the doubt — and maybe even give yourself a break once in awhile, as well.