How to be patient: 6 tips

It takes forever for your child to put on their shoes. The person ordering coffee for you has apparently never done this before. You are already late and yet your partner thinks this is the perfect time to take a “quick” shower.


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Sometimes life’s annoyances – both big and small – can make you feel like you need to blow your top.

But you know they won’t go away. So maybe it’s up to you to become more patient. To learn to control yourself when the world doesn’t move at your speed.

Contrary to what you might think, patience is not just the domain of kindergarten teachers and saints. It’s not something you have or don’t have. It is a skill that anyone can develop and strengthen.

“Some people are naturally better at using patience than others,” says clinical psychologist Ramone Ford, PhD. “But it’s a bit like dancing. Everyone can improve with practice.”

How can you be more patient with your partner? Your children? Yourself? Dr. Ford shares some strategies for being more patient.

Why is it difficult to have patience?

If you feel like you’ve become less patient in recent years, you’re not alone. Cultural shifts – especially when it comes to technology – have conditioned us to expect instant gratification.

Reading a certain book, listening to a certain song or watching a popular TV show is as easy as a few clicks. An evening dinner or a week’s shopping will be at our doorstep in no time. That burning question in your mind is just a quick internet search away.

Dr. Ford calls it the ‘microwave generation’.

“There are so many things readily available to us,” he notes. “It’s becoming increasingly common for us to have so much of what we want at our fingertips. Instant access means our expectations have increased, which often leads to our patience decreasing.”

In other words, instant gratification can feel like the key to keeping your life on track. But it can be bad news when it comes to your ability to wait patiently.

  • If I can get my pet’s food delivered the same day, why am I waiting on hold to talk to the vet?
  • Why did I waste an entire afternoon looking for curtains in the store? I knew it would have been faster to just order them online.
  • I’ve been standing in line for five whole minutes. Isn’t this the intention? fast food?
  • I don’t need those concert tickets anymore, but the site keeps crashing. Renew, renew, REFRESH!!!!

How to be more patient

The good news is that you can learn to be more patient. But as with any new skill, you can expect it to take some time. It can be difficult to rewire your thinking.

And if your patience has already worn thin, learning to be patient can help you… well, test your patience.

Worth the effort? Yes. Probably uncomfortable? Also yes.

So take a deep breath and try the strategies Dr. Ford suggests strengthening your patience.

1. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice that encourages you to be in the present moment, without judgment. It sounds simple, but it can be challenging to actually pay attention to what you’re doing, how you’re feeling, and what’s happening around you.

“We get so caught up in what the next step on our to-do list is that we lose track of the moment we get there,” notes Dr. Ford up.

And it’s easy to lose your patience when your thoughts spiral. Because when you disconnect from the here and now, your mind can create quite elaborate stories about the consequences of what is happening.

  • Your head: We have to leave now or I’ll be late for that meeting. My boss will investigate my case, and I will never get promoted.
  • Reality: You’re 30 seconds behind your usual routine. And you have plenty of time to get to work. (And even stop for a coffee along the way, if you want.)

There are many ways to practice mindfulness. The key is to get out of your head and engage your senses. Take the time to actually see, feel, hear, smell and even taste the world around you.

No distractions. No thinking about what’s next. No repeat of that embarrassing event from sophomore year. I just focus on what’s happening right now.

There are many ways to practice mindfulness. You could try the following:

  • Keep a diary.
  • Practice breathing techniques.
  • Engage in conscious eating.
  • Practicing yoga.
  • Try Tai Chi.
  • Take up meditation.

2. Know what you can control

Whether you’re stuck in traffic or stuck in a job you hate, your patience may be wearing thin. But it can help to recognize when you can and cannot change your circumstances.

It’s a matter of recognizing what you can control and what you can’t.

If the clutter in your home is driving you crazy, come up with a plan to tackle it little by little. If your partner gets on your nerves, talk about it.

But when the line at the DMV moves at a glacial pace… well, there’s not much you can do about it. Losing your cool won’t get you out of there any faster. So it’s best to just accept it as it is.

And try to find a silver lining if you can. Maybe pop in your earbuds and enjoy that podcast you’ve been dying to get to.

3. Build your tolerance for discomfort

By practicing patience through life’s small setbacks, you can increase your tolerance when the bigger problems arise. Getting into the habit of letting a car pull in front of you in traffic can be a small gesture that will help you get used to the idea of ​​having no problem slowing down.

Other ways to flex your patience muscles:

  • Let other people go first in line.
  • Purposefully ignore the notifications on your phone, even for a few minutes.
  • Take up a hobby that requires patience, such as knitting or woodworking.
  • Resist the urge to scratch an itch.
  • Write a letter by hand to a friend and wait for the response.

4. Listen carefully

When you feel tense, it can be difficult to take the time to listen to what other people are telling you. Because when your mind is preoccupied with what comes next, you lose the present moment, including continuing the conversation you’re in.

Impatience during a conversation can look like formulating your response to what is being said before it is your turn to speak. Or mentally step away from the conversation while making a shopping list in your head instead.

Remind yourself to stay present with the person you are talking to. Put down your phone. Sit with them. Look at them. Focus on understanding what they are saying. Ask clarifying questions. And stay involved.

5. Find the fun

Laughter can lighten any mood. And it can help you find patience when it seems like you don’t have much.

Sure, it might fray your nerves if your kid decides he’s not going to get on your hamster wheel this morning. You have places you need to go, and if they had already put on a shirt, you would be on your way.

So when they walk down the stairs in their favorite outfit – a tutu and cowboy boots, completed with a stethoscope from their play doctor around their neck – you enjoy the absurdity for a moment.

You probably can’t send them to daycare and look like something that crawled out of the closet. But you can take a moment to appreciate their creativity. Even if it makes you late for work, at least you come to the office with a funny story.

6. Empathy

It’s easy to lose your temper when others don’t keep their promises. But take a moment to realize that bothering you is (probably) not their goal.

Instead of thinking about the effects that others’ actions have on you, consider their point of view.

  • If your teammate isn’t meeting the demands of the job, ask what’s going on, rather than assuming he or she is sabotaging the group.
  • If the person at the self-service checkout in front of you can’t seem to figure out where the barcode is located, understand that this is not a personal attack on you. And they’re probably frustrated too.
  • If your friend hasn’t yet replied that they’re going to dinner tomorrow, understand that they may be dealing with bigger issues right now. Consider checking in to ask if everything is okay, rather than demanding a response to your plans.

No one says increasing your patience is easy. But with daily practice, you’ll find yourself calmer, less tired, and more willing to give others the benefit of the doubt—and maybe even give yourself a break, too. You deserve it.