Ever noticed someone rushing to get ahead of traffic? Swerving from one lane to another. Cutting in. Cutting out. Each time, an accident ready to happen. “One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.” Chinese Proverb At the next stoplight, the angry driver is stuck next to you — waiting for the green light, not having gotten ahead. You can see the blood boiling and hear the horn honking because the person in front of the demanding driver could have made the light. You see the intense slamming of the steering wheel and fierce yelling through the front windshield. Yikes! Ever noticed hints of this behavior in yourself?
Our Toxic Culture Of Instant-GratificationOne could say, living in a culture where things happen NOW breeds impatience. Who doesn’t like the immediacy of 1) wanting something & 2) having it fulfilled in the blink of an eye? Instant downloads, purchases with one click, same-day delivery, instant messaging, you name it we got it. Practice your patience skills by registering for an upcoming Mindful Day today! So when the internet doesn’t connect at warp speed, we have to wait for a treadmill at the gym, or the parking meter isn’t taking our credit card — it can feel unbearable! In fact, we may lose our composure, perspective, awareness of options and belief that we can handle it without blowing up. Boom!
The Physiological Effects Of ImpatienceWhen we are impatient, the body releases the stress hormone cortisol. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that “stress hormones stimulate platelets, making them more likely to clot in arteries already narrowed by heart disease, a process that can result in a heart attack. These hormones also cause the body’s fat cells to release fat into the bloodstream.” Like the angry driver, we might find ourselves in “hurry up and wait” mode. Been there? When dissatisfaction with the current moment is so intense? We lose sight of what might be possible to explore or enjoy HERE & NOW because we are frustrated with the fact we aren’t THERE yet.
5 Ways to Cultivate PatienceLike most everything, we develop patience through practice. We can learn a different way to relate to ourselves, others and our lives. And yes, it is possible for anyone and everyone. Below are some ideas: Pause to embrace the present with our 7 Days of Embracing Right Now on-demand series!
1) Noticing times when you lost your patience and what it felt likeDo commonalities exist in these instances? Is it at the end of the day, in certain situations, or when we feel impatient or frustrated with ourselves? By raising awareness to our own triggers we can prepare better for them. Maybe today isn’t the day to have a particular conversation. As we become aware of the felt-sense of losing patience, we can mindfully choose ways to soothe the irritation.
2) Use the STOP practiceThis mindfulness practice can be used to help strengthen patience before challenging situations arise or when we’re in the midst of the emotional hijack. It’s easy to remember:
- S: Stop what we’re doing or maybe saying to take a deliberate pause.
- T: Take a mindful breath or several mindful breaths. Narrowing the focus of attention to what the breath feels like as it moves in and out of the body.
- O: Observe the bodily sensations, thoughts, emotions and even urges that are present in the moment, acknowledging they are natural and already here.
- P: Proceed. Having taken the opportunity check-in, choosing what the wisest way to proceed. What next step is best to take, or not to take with the longer term in mind. If the body is still highly activated, maybe choosing to do the STOP practice again.