Imagine being stuck in a major traffic jam on a highway with people constantly honking and sirens that make you feel even more angry and frustrated. Think about how that anger and frustration serves you in that moment? Except for ruining your mood, inner peace and draining your energy, the reality is that it does nothing to improve the situation. This anger and frustration would then be carried forward to where ever you go next and whoever you talk to next. To avoid creating this vicious cycle, you could try inculcating the virtue called patience.
What is Patience?
We often come across phrases like: “Good things come to those who wait.” and “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” This is because patience is an essential virtue that everyone must possess. Patience refers to qualities of endurance or tolerance and the ability to calmly wait in the face of adversity or distress. A person who is patient is able to make calm and rational decisions, achieve their goals and improve their health & overall mental well-being.
How Patience Impacts Our Emotions
To understand how patience impacts our emotions, we must also understand the concept of emotional well-being. As defined in their research by Dr. Sabri & Dr Clark in 2018, emotional well-being is a positive state of one’s emotions, life satisfaction, sense of meaning and purpose and ability to pursue self-defined goals. Elements of emotional well-being include a sense of balance in emotions, thoughts, social relationships and pursuits. Emotional well-being also consists of being aware of your emotions, acceptance of those emotions and the ability to manage them effectively.
The only way to better our emotional well-being is when we are patient with ourselves. Understanding and accepting ourselves and our emotions won’t happen overnight. It is a process that will continue throughout our lives. Being able to manage our emotions is a task which requires a lot patience and practice.
Patience and Emotional Intelligence
It is also essential to understand the emotions of others. When we are patient, we are able to pause and respond instead of reacting to something instantaneously, thereby avoiding the probability of making the situation worse. This improves both our intra-personal as well interpersonal relationships, and helps foster positive emotions in ourselves and others. These are qualities of people with high emotional intelligence.
Having patience can also act as a barrier against stress. Emotional wellness also includes being optimistic, high self-esteem and self-acceptance. Having patience makes us more resilient, it helps us to hold on a little longer and persevere. This helps us work harder, achieve our goals which in turn improves our self confidence and self-esteem. A simple example could be that if you want to learn to play a guitar, it would require persistent practice and patience. And, when you do learn that skill and achieve the goal you set for yourself, you’ll feel more positive about yourself and end up with positive emotions, which will consequently improve your emotional well-being.
How Lack of Patience Leads to Emotional Health Problems
While this statement might make many feel that this is an exaggeration of the situation, in reality, impatience can lead to a number of mental health issues starting from anxiety.
Daniel Baugher, Dean of Graduate Programs at Pace University in New York says, “Being impatient could cause anxiety & hostility…and if you’re constantly anxious, your sleep could be affected too.”
Thus, it is pretty evident that lack of patience could lead you down the path of mental health conditions like anxiety, insomnia and panic attacks. It could also be the number one cause of physiological health conditions like stress, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and even weight gain. Clearly, patience is much more than just a virtue that was taught to be practiced by our elders.
How to Be a More Patient Person
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “To lose patience is to lose the battle.” So how do we instil in ourselves the pertinent virtue of patience? Here are a few ways to you can be a more patient person:
- Practice Mindfulness
It is the practice of being aware of our thoughts and emotions by simply observing them instead of judging or putting labels on them.
- Take a Breathing Break
Take a minute for yourself and just focus on your breathing without thinking about anything else. It’ll help you calm down and relax.
- Re-Frame the Situation
Hold on before you react to a certain situation and try to look at it from a different perspective by considering the bigger picture. Things might not be as bad as you think.
- Make Peace with the Situation
Some things in life will always be out of your control. The only thing we can do is push forward and find ways to deal with things in a better manner.
- Distract Yourself
Just how you can be more patient by making peace with your current predicament as mentioned above, you could try distracting yourself from the current situation if you’re feeling impatient. If you’re stuck in traffic, put on your favorite tune or a podcast and make the most of your time. You may also observe other kinds of vehicles around you, the scenery, the sky, billboards or anything you like. The goal is to try to distract yourself from what is causing you to be impatient in the first place.
Remember a little bit of patience can help keep a lot of physical & mental ailments at bay.