More patience would make the world a better place. We all see those rushed, irritated people around us during the day. In the shops, at the office or on the streets in their cars. I am ashamed to say that I am also not a very patient person. That is why I decided to start working on the habit of patience. How?
I am at the supermarket and walk to the cashier to pay for my groceries. Since I can choose between two queues, I obviously pick the shortest one. When I have been waiting for five minutes I suddenly realize that the queue next to me is moving much faster then the one I am in! In front of me is an old man with his groceries. He is paying cash and is searching for banknotes and coins in his wallet. Meanwhile he is having a casual chat with the cashier. I become irritated and blame myself for always chosing the wrong queue. Five minutes later I am standing outside with my groceries, feeling angry and tired. That was only my first confession. There’s more.
When I am walking in the mall I often get very annoyed by people that are walking slowly right in front of me. I force myself to pick up the pace and pass them as fast as I can. When I am almost running to pass them I realize they were not walking that slow after all! I am out of breath and feel stupid. Okay, time for the last confession.
When I am working on something I always want results as fast as possible. For example when I send out an important email I get irritated when I don’t get a reply within the next hour or so. I expect people to always check their email and reply to my messages as soon as possible. I keep checking my mail and when there is no reply I get irritated and I feel tense. Sometimes I even mail them again or call them to follow up on my request.
No, I am not a patient person. And lack of patience is a very bad habit. It is not making the world a better place and I am hurting myself and other people. That is why I decided to start working on the habit of patience. How?
Three things: awareness, walking in their shoes and breathing.
I am aware
Whenever I feel I am losing my patience I stop and try to observe my emotions. What emotions do I feel? Rushed? Angry? Having these emotions is okay but what would happen if I would just slow down and wait? Life is too short to be wasted on these negative emotions.
I walk in their shoes
I try to be the old man that is casually chatting to the cashier. That might be the best moment of his day! Or I try to be the people that are walking in front of me at the mall. They are just having a fun day out with the family. Or I try to be the person I sent the email to. Maybe he or she is buried in work and feeling stressed. I always get an answer to my email from that person so I will just wait.
Then I take a few deep breaths and count to ten in my mind. When I am calm again I smile and feel gratitude for the fact that I am even fysically capable to drive in a car, walk in a supermarket or work on a computer.
Join me and try to work on the habit of patience!