Mastering the art of patience can help improve your practice and your life.
Can you recall the last time you waited in a long and slow-moving line at the grocery store checkout aisle? If you’re like most people, you probably shifted from one foot to the other, muttering under your breath at the pokey cashier and dawdling shoppers.
Today’s fast-paced lifestyle has launched society into perpetual high gear. Instant gratification has become the expected outcome, whether you’re talking about food preparation, job promotion, or internet searches.
Patience in a modern world
According to the website Not Hardware, waiting for anything is a rarity in today’s world.1 For instance, the site notes that 1 in 4 people will abandon a web page that takes more than four seconds to load. And this impatience extends to other aspects of life.
Approximately 70 percent of Americans eat fast food at least once a week and millions seek the perfect love match in three- to eight-minute speed-dating sessions, the site reports.
But if you slow down, will you be left behind while rest of the world moves on without you? Not really, according to Mindful Magazine, which offers several good reasons to cultivate patience. First of all, research shows that it can boost your mental health.
A 2007 study on the psychophysiological study of patience found less depression and fewer negative emotions in people who exercised it. The study also reported improved physical health, noting that patient individuals had fewer medical issues, such as headaches, acne flare-ups, ulcers, diarrhea, and pneumonia.
Benefits of being patient
Individuals are not the only ones who can benefit from being patient in their lives. A 2014 study, “Taking time for patience in organizations,” examined the benefits of practicing patience as an organization and found several perks for both employers and employees. The study authors note that it can lead to quality product and services. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is quoted as saying, “A business model built on patience will pay off.” There’s little arguing that he was right.
Furthermore, this study suggested that patience leads to lasting prosperity for the company that practices it. Patient interactions in the office translate to a pleasant working environment and increased productivity.
Another important outcome of being patient in the workplace is an increase in ethical behavior. “Employees and managers who have the patience to accept that they cannot dominate every situation, task, and person may be less likely to engage in fraud or other types of corruption in the workplace,” the study notes.
Learning to slow down
But for some individuals, it could be challenging to shift from a mind constantly in motion, and they will be unwilling or unable to wait. Zorka Hereford, author of Essential Skills, offers some commonsense suggestions for nurturing patience: Set patience as your goal for one day by being mindful and in the moment, and then make it a daily practice. “Developing patience is much like physical exercise because it requires persistence and effort,” she says.
Deep breathing can help slow down your pace and create opportunities to rethink an impulse, whether gulping down a second drink or buying yet another pair of shoes, Hereford says. It may also reduce the risk of creating an uncomfortable or awkward situation. For example, immediately responding to a comment could result in hurt feelings or worse.
Hereford recommends thinking about potential consequences before blurting out your thoughts. She asserts that being patient is a skill anyone can master. “As far as challenges to cultivating patience, there is really only one—the reluctance to do the work required,” she says.
1 Colaner S. “Instant America” and Our Waning Patience for Everything. Hot Hardware. http://hothardware.com/news/instant-america-and-our-waning-patience-for-everything. Published March 2012. Accessed Nov. 2016.