10 practical tips for cultivating patience

Sarah McColl, Shine staff

You might not be given to astrological meanings as much as I am, but one thing I know: Aries are not particularly patient, and I'm living proof. Whether you can't stand waiting in line or get hot-headed in an argument (my particular bugaboo), patience is the kind of virtue we'd all do well to cultivate. Here, ten ways to keep from flipping a lid at your next staff meeting.

1. Identify your triggers. What sends you over the edge? Is it bad traffic, your annoying co-workers, or how slowly your kids move in the morning when you're trying to get out the door? Note what the main irritants are to your daily sense of zen and focus on cultivating your patience in those areas in particular.

2. Take a deep breath. You're in the heat of the moment with your identified irritant and you feel your blood starting to boil. Acknowledge your reaction and slow it down by taking a deep breath and a slow exhale.

3. Count to 10. Now, we're going to slow down your reaction even more. Count to ten in your head. It's advice you likely learned on the playground, but it still holds true. Giving yourself even ten seconds will help bring your boiling temper down to a mere simmer.

4. Take a step back. Waiting in a long line at the post office is annoying, for sure, but it's a pretty small thing to let ruin your mood. Put your frustration into perspective. Is anyone in physical harm? Is this a life or death situation? Will this matter tomorrow, next week, or next year?

5. Be like a duck. Let the water roll off your back. Every little irritating thing in a day doesn't have to get under your skin. Don't get caught up in the drama of the day-to-day. Instead of feeling like the whole frustrating world is happening at you, let it roll over you.

6. Give yourself a mantra.
In a frustrating situation, you might find it helpful to have a line at the ready that calms you. Try, "I'm like rocks in a river; I let stress run over me," "There is peace in this moment," "This too shall pass" or "Everything is okay; I will be fine." Your phrase doesn't have to be profound; it could even be saying the word, "Shhh..." in your head like you would calm a child.

7. See the humor. You know the expression "We plan, God laughs"? Beat God to the punch and try to find the humor in an otherwise irritating situation. Scientifically, laughter reduces stress hormones, but it also just feels good.

8. Fake it till you make it. You might not feel like laughing about a situation or breathing in and out or letting an irritation go. Frankly, you might feel like pitching a fit. But what would the highest realized version of your self do? She'd be cool, she'd be patient. Pretend to be her. You might find in time that you're not pretending anymore.

9. Carry a book. Or a magazine or the newspaper or your smart phone loaded with Tetris. Give yourself great distractions, and you might even find yourself looking forward to waiting rooms and plane delays.

10. Practice on yourself. Do you get frustrated with yourself? Do you have an inner critic who says not-so-lovely things like, "I can't believe you forgot your keys/stuck your foot in your mouth/lost your temper again!" Practice patience with yourself. Shrug, remind yourself that nobody's perfect, and let it go. You're a work in progress.


Do you have frequently run out of patience? What sends you off the edge? And how do you get back a sense of of calm?



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