AFTER reading the preceding articles, you will probably agree that the more patient you are, the more likely you are to enjoy better health, make better decisions, and have good friends. So how can you learn to be more patient? Consider the following recommendations.
Identify the causes:
The things or situations that make you impatient have been called impatience triggers. What triggers your impatience? Are there specific individuals who try your patience? Perhaps your mate, parents, or children are the principal impatience triggers in your life. Or are your triggers usually time related? For instance, are you likely to lose your patience when you have to wait for others or when you are running late? Do you lose your patience when you are tired, hungry, sleepy, or under some type of stress? Do you more often lose your patience at home or at work?
How can merely identifying your impatience triggers help? Long ago, King Solomon wrote: “Sensible people foresee trouble and hide from it, but gullible people go ahead and suffer the consequence.” (Proverbs 22:3, God’s Word Bible) In harmony with this ancient Bible proverb, if you anticipate or “foresee” your bouts of impatience, you may be able to prevent them. At first you may have to make calculated efforts to be more patient, but in time patience can become a quality that comes naturally to you.
Simplify your life:
According to Professor Noreen Herzfeld, who teaches computer science at Saint John’s University, in Minnesota, U.S.A., “people really can’t multitask. The brain cannot concentrate on several things simultaneously.” She adds: “Over time, multitasking erodes our ability to pay focused, close attention, and this eventually eats away at traits such as patience, tenacity, judgment, and problem solving.”
It is difficult to cultivate patience when you are stressed from having too many things to do, too many places to be, and too many people to stay in touch with. Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, mentioned earlier in this series, warns: “Fundamentally, stress is the cause of much of our impatient reactions.”
So, “slow down and smell the roses,” as the old adage says. Make time to enjoy life. Make time to establish deep friendships with a few people, rather than pursuing shallow friendships with a huge network of people. Budget your time, and set your priorities wisely. Beware of time-wasting hobbies and gadgets.
In order to simplify your life, you may need to look at your daily routine. Where can you slow down or cut down? A Bible proverb says: “For everything there is an appointed time . . . , a time to keep and a time to throw away.” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 6) Maybe this is the time for you to eliminate some time-consuming things so that you are not too busy to be patient.
Have a realistic view of life. First of all, in real life, things do not always happen as fast as we wish. Accept the fact that time moves at the speed of time and not at the speed of your expectations. That is patience.
Second, remember that you cannot always control your circumstances. Wise King Solomon wrote: “The fastest runner does not always win the race; the strongest army does not always win the battle; the wisest man does not always get the food he earns; the smartest man does not always get the wealth; and an educated person does not always get the praise he deserves. When the time comes, bad things happen to everyone! A person never knows what will happen to him next.”
Instead of losing your patience over circumstances that are beyond your control, try to identify things that you can control. To illustrate, rather than getting angry over a delayed bus or train, try to find another way to get to your destination. Even walking might be better than giving in to impatience and anger. If waiting is the only option, use the time to do something productive, such as doing some meaningful reading or writing down your plans for future activities.
The reality of life is that it does little good to worry over things that you cannot control. The Bible aptly says: “None of you can add any time to your life by worrying about it.”
Many who believe in the Bible have found that by applying its principles, they can develop patience. According to the Bible, a spiritual person is more inclined to display patience, along with other important virtues such as love, joy, peace, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22, 23) The Bible promises: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers.” (Philippians 4:6, 7) Study the Bible and learn how you can live less anxiously and more patiently.