In today’s world where customers can have their needs met in the twinkling of an eye, one of the most hard-to-develop quality is patience. Looking to watch a movie? You can just watch it online. Planning on educating yourself, or listening to music? YouTube is the place to go to.
Internet has conditioned us to expect that our wishes will be granted in less than a minute. As great as it may sound, this doesn’t come without caveats.
The biggest problem that this era gave birth to is our constant need for instant gratification. It made us grow more impatient than ever and what was considered as normal decades ago became abnormal according to today’s standards.
I’ve decided to write an easy-to-comprehend and easy-to-apply step-by-step guide on how to develop patience so that you can learn this valuable quality that is necessary for everything that you desire in life.
If there’s one thing that has never changed, it’s that patience is always rewarded.
No matter what you want, valuable things are always given to the one who has the courage to wait long enough to have it. I’ve had the chance of experiencing many things in my life, which gave me incredible patience. One thing that life has constantly taught me is that patience eventually pays off.
As some of you may know, I’ve been learning japanese for almost 3 years now. I was terrible when I started, and I’m still not that good to this day. If you had to ask me how come I still haven’t given up although I still can’t speak as good japanese as I can speak english although I’ve never put even a quarter of the effort I put in learning japanese for english, I’d say that it’s primarily due to the fact that I knew from the very beginning that it was going to take time. A lot of time.
Of course, it doesn’t apply only to learning a language. Patience is not only needed for waiting an awesome movie that you’ll know you’ll enjoy – I’m waiting for you Avengers 4 -, but it’s more importantly needed to learn any valuable skills.
Learning a language, playing an instrument, getting that dream body, finding your soulmate, making a ton of money… any outcome that you desire will require a tremendous amount of patience. It is just how life works.
In this article, I’ll give you 14 ways I’ve learned through my journey in life and used to develop patience.
1) Pay Attention To People In Your Surroundings (notice patterns)
A great way to learn is through observation. Paying attention to the people around you might help you more than you think: after all, success leaves clues.
Not only observing people that are patient will be beneficial, taking a look at impatient people will be of great value as well. If you find yourself really being impatient one day, then have the awareness of looking at yourself from a higher perspective and notice where you focus goes.
This technique is not only about ‘looking’ aimlessly, as looking alone never made anyone successful. On the other hand, analyzing what makes some people patient and what makes others impatient can tremendously help you grow.
The real purpose of this exercise is to make you aware of your (bad) habits: what do you do and what do you think about when you’re impatient? If you find yourself having a hard time analyzing your own habits, then take advantage of the people around you to learn their strengths and weaknesses.
2) Change Your Habits
Once you are aware of what triggers your impatience, and how it makes you act, then you have the ability to change it. Awareness is the first step towards change.
If you had the chance of witnessing how patient people act, then simply act like them when a situation tests your patience. If you do not have anyone around you that you can learn from, simply try new habits just to change your existing habits that may act as triggers.
In NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), these are called anchors: regardless of its effect (good or bad), we all have some. In this particular case, simply looking at your watch multiple times or tapping your foot on the ground might trigger your impatience.
Simply put, it might be due to the association your brain made with impatience: each time that you’re impatient, you look at your watch. Conversely, each time that you look at your watch, you’re impatient. Therefore, looking at your watch might trigger impatience within you, as your brain made an association between ‘looking at your watch’, and ‘impatience’. Of course, ‘looking at your watch when you’re impatient’ serves as an exemple. Your trigger might be something totally different, but it’s up to you to find what it is.
Be aware of what triggers you, and break the patterns.
3) Ask To Your Relatives/Friends
I understand that it might be quite complicated to notice your own patterns sometimes, especially since these seem natural to you. An easier way to notice what has been holding you back is to simply ask the people around you.
Although it might seem invisible to your own eye, it might not be so-invisible to another pair of eyes.
I remember having a disease years ago that affected my body greatly, it was hell to me… for some time. Eventually, my body got used to it and it started becoming everyday-life to me. What’s really interesting is that people around me with a fresh pair of eyes didn’t view things in the same way: they were urging me to go to the hospital. I didn’t understand them at the time.
It needed a lot of convincing before I actually went and cured myself. The crazy part is that I, now, cannot believe how I could get used to that. It’s one of the many tricks your brain can play on you sometimes to get rid of the emotional pain: it becomes numb to it.
Kindly ask to someone who you spend a lot of time with how your body changes and how you behave when impatience starts rising within you.
4) Trigger Your Impatience Yourself
Another great way to get awareness of what makes you impatient is to actually stand right in front of a mirror and trigger impatience yourself. That way, you’ll have a clear picture of what your brain does to your body, which will give you the ability to change it.
Putting yourself in a certain state is pretty simple. Simply close your eyes, and direct your focus on a situation that makes you so impatient that it makes you want to yell from your lungs.
Obviously, a quicker way would be to actually know what your triggers are: that way, you can just put yourself in that state just by using your triggers. If you don’t know what those are, you can just imagine and start tapping from the foot, and acting like you are impatient.
Apart from making you look dumb, what this exercise does to you is that it puts you in a state of impatience. Once you feel like you want to punch the wall bare hands, then carefully look at yourself in the mirror and start picking up how you behave.
As of now, you know what associations your brain make with impatience. Now that you have awareness, it’s time to break the patterns.
5) Break The Patterns
This is the easiest step to changing your bad habits.
Now that you know what triggers impatience, litteraly just break the patterns each time that you find yourself being impatient. For instance, if looking at your watch incessantly is part of the triggers that prevents you from developing patience, simply stop doing it.
This is why having the awareness is critical: you can’t change what you don’t know you’re doing. Unfortunately, since our bodies tend to work on auto-pilot, we easily can overlook bad habits. It’s up to you to take control and pick up things that you weren’t aware of before.
Never forget that each time you do something, you’re reinforcing that habit of yours – whether it be good or bad.
6) Delay Instant Gratification
This is when developing patience becomes difficult. As previously said in the beginning, we have been contitionned to getting what we want in a matter of minutes. However, it doesn’t do you any good, especially if you find yourself having some trouble with impatience.
That’s why you should train your brain not to indulge in instant gratification: it’s far from easy, but definitely doable.
Your exercise for this step is to condition your brain to patience. In other words, you’d want to take the long route in each of your daily decisions. It could be as simple as planning out when you’re going to eat pizza, instead of just ordering pizza when you want some. What you do doesn’t really matter ; what really matters is delaying instant gratification. As long as you do that, I’m confident you’ll see great results.
7) Become Used To Discomfort
This is a universal strategy that works for anything you want to improve on in life ; one thing that we all struggle with as human beings. After all, our brain is designed to keep us safe: it is always going for the easiest path.
Unfortunately, as great as it is to be comfortable, it’s never going to get you to where you to go.
The reason why I talk about learning to become used to discomfort in an article about how to develop patience is because as frustrating as it may sound: you are going to be uncomfortable when applying my strategies. Not only that, you will also need to be familiar with this concept in order to master patience. After all, for each situation that is going to test your patience, you are going to need resistance against discomfort.
Waiting a long time is never comfortable, and this is precisely why you must master the art of being uncomfortable.
To work on this area, simply put yourself in situations that will make you uncomfortable. A person living a life of comfort will have a harder time in a situation of discomfort than a person living uncomfortably put in a situation of comfort.
Train your brain to embrace discomfort.
8) Think Long-Term
People who are impatient are usually more prone to thinking short-term, those are the people that want results fast. However, you need to understand that anything of value will take time to master/acquire.
I recommend you start thinking long-term about your goal, it means looking at the bigger picture. It comes back again to instant gratification: most of the benefits will only manifest long-term. It’s like planting a seed that will only sprout in a few months or years. Most people expect it to sprout the following day, but it’s unfortunately not how it works.
No matter what your goals are, start looking at the biggest picture instead of be focused on the benefits it will provide short-term.
9) Adjust Your Expectations
You can be the most patient man in the world and still run out of patience if you set the wrong expectations from the very beginning.
Setting the right expectations means being realistic. If I were to take me as an exemple, I knew that speaking fluently japanese would take between 5 to 10 years. I had the right expectations, which is why I never ran out of patience. On the other hand, I’ve often seen people give up on learning because they thought it would only require a few weeks or months to master the language, which is way too unrealistic.
When your expectations are too high and come up short, you feel like you waited an eternity.
Before commiting yourself to anything, always make sure that you have the right expectations. A little trick that I like to use is to even underestimate yourself knowingly.
In short, it would mean to tell your brain that doing a task will take longer than it should, and will. When it’ll be over, I guarantee you that your brain will be pleased, as it did not expect that this would be over this quickly.
10) Focus Your Attention Elsewhere
This is one of my favorite techniques, and one you might bave been using from time to time without knowing it.
Haven’t you never waited something for a long time, but completely forgot about it due to a busy schedule? It happens to me a lot, and this is how I realized the true power of this.
When you focus on something too much, even 5 minutes may seem like an eternity. On the other hand, focusing on something else will kill time. Nothing extraordinary, just the power of focus.
Applying this technique is fairly easy: just get busy. I can assure you that when you have other things to think about, time goes much faster.
11) Model Patient People
One of my favorite ways to achieve anything is life is to model people who have already done it. Developing patience is no exception.
What makes someone patient or impatient is the way their brain works, and how they behave.
If being impatient is really an issue to you, then you may want to dive deep into the subject and start learning all the differences between patient and impatient people. I dive more deeply into this subject in this article.
12) Build Your Patience Muscle
Do you know how to build muscle? Most people do.
Lift heavy weights that put pressure on your body again and again until your muscle get used to it. Then, slowly raise the weight.
However, most people tend to mistakingly think that it only applies to physical muscle. In fact, this very same technique can be used on immaterial concepts, such as your mindset and beliefs.
Anything related to your mindset and beliefs are just thought that have been hammered in your brain again and again. Just like a muscle, once this thought has been hammered enough times, it eventually becomes normality to you.
Let’s say that you secluded and raised a child in a house, and kept telling him that he should never leave the house or he would be eaten by wolves. Do you think that after 10, 15 or even 30 years he would suddenly tell himself one day: ”Wait, there are no wolves out there, aren’t there?”.
By constantly instilling this belief into him, it would become natural for him. Now, what would it take to make him believe the opposite?
To build his belief up!
Just like he has been taught over and over that he should never leave the house, he should equally teach himself that the outside world is safe. Depending on how long he has been hammered this belief, he will be able to change this belief quickly or slowly.
Regarding how to develop patience, it works in the same way: if you’ve conditionned your brain to become irritated after a short period of time waiting, then it will be harder for you to condition your brain to do the opposition.
As annoying as it may sound, there is only one way to build that muscle: to put yourself in situations where waiting becomes a pain, and wait longer each time you do this.
For instance, if waiting 5 minutes sounds like a challenge for you, aim for 6 or 7 minutes. Once you achieve that, then slowly increase the duration.
Before you know it, you’ll be able to wait fifteen, twenty minutes or more.
13) Enjoy The Process
No matter the outcome that you’re seeking, you should always enjoy the process. If you want to develop patience, that is. After all, how can you expect to wait long enough if what you’re doing is draining all your energy?
Although focusing on the outcome from time to time might be good to know exactly what you’re aiming at, focusing too much on the outcome will hurt you.
When you start feeling pleasure for what you do, you’ll be much more likely to finish through as you won’t be doing it for the reward, but for enjoyment.
Focus on the process, not the result.
14) Understand That Mastery Takes Time
Any big result will require a big effort, it’s how life works. You can’t expect to become great at something in a short period of time, it’s incompatible.
I know that a lot of people struggle with this, as they think that learning a valuable skill can be done quickly. In fact, this prone-to-instant-gratification society might be the primary reason why many people suffer from this.
All you need to do is to simply change your mindset around this. Once you understand that it takes years to become great at something, or to obtain something of great value, you’ll crush it.
These are my 14 best cutting-edge techniques on how to develop patience. Of course, you must be patient enough to be willing to learn to be patient. After all, most of these techniques won’t show immediate result.
To get maximum results, I suggest that you apply them all. However, it might be counter-productive and overwhleming to apply them all at once, that’s why my recommendation for you is to actually start implementing one technique at a time.
Once you feel like you’ve gotten used to it and have gotten certain benefits, then you can start implementing another technique on top of that. Be careful not to just leave without applying anything, as knowledge is not power until you actually apply it.
Pick one technique you can implement right away, and constantly practice it to slowly develop your patience day after day.