By Carol Hendershot
I was not born with a strong patience gene. Before mindfulness, I was always in a hurry. I would honk at cars in the wrong lane, tap my toe in check-out lines, finish peoples’ sentences, and huff and puff when my computer wouldn’t load.
In this constant race for more, we lose our moments, and our moments are the lifeblood of our lives.
I’m still a work in progress, but because of my mindfulness practice, I’ve become a more patient person. I’m more patient and understanding with others, I’m better at listening, and sometimes I can even take a deep breath in a slow-moving line while smiling at the cashier. And when I screw up, I can forgive myself and move on.
What is patience and what are the benefits?
- Improve life satisfaction and increase feelings of gratitude
- Reduce depression, anxiety, and negative emotions
- Improve our ability to be kind and accepting to ourselves and others
- Help us meet our goals
- Improve our health
Three ways to develop more patience
So, if you are like me and you weren’t born with a lot of patience, how can you develop it?
When we are constantly in a hurry, rushing becomes a way of life. Our habits tend to take over even when it isn’t necessary, and we feel blown off balance. By taking a breath before we charge ahead, we have time to evaluate and to see if this is just an old habit running its course. When we slow down and do one thing at a time, we are more productive and make fewer mistakes.
When you bring patience to the forefront of your awareness, you are more likely to be patient. You could even put a sticky note on your mirror or computer to redirect your mind.
Learning mindfulness meditation was my path to more patience, and now I know why. A 2011 Yale University brain-imaging study found that people who meditate on a regular basis can switch off the parts of their brain associated with anxiety. Start small; commit to meditate for 3, 5, or 10 minutes every day. Tie it to something you already do daily, like brushing your teeth. Be as diligent with your meditation practice as you are with your teeth. Give yourself a reward by noticing how you feel afterward.