9 ways to become a more patient person

Learning patience requires, well, patience

It seems some people are born with patience; the rest of us have to learn it. Learning patience is more complicated in today’s digital world where we’ve become accustomed to doing so much so immediately. But the real irony of learning patience is that it requires patience in the first place. It’s a conundrum.


Becoming more patient benefits ourselves more than anyone

Fortunately, science has found we can develop patience through practice—and that we should for our health and well-being. Consider these connections research has uncovered.


Impatience is linked with increased Patience is linked with increased
  • Depression
  • Risk of heart problems
  • Irritability
  • Loneliness
  • Sleep problems
  • Goal achievement
  • Happiness
  • Life satisfaction
  • Self-control
  • Self-esteem


The evidence is clear: we all benefit from increased patience. So how can we practice to increase ours?


Practicing patience: big-picture strategies

Develop a plan to become more patient. Take the following steps, being careful to start small and build as you become stronger.

1: Identify triggers—Think about situations that try your patience and identify why those situations are difficult for you. Once you know your triggers, you can devise strategies to improve.

2: Force yourself to slow down—This begins with scheduling adequate time for your activities. Give yourself an extra 15 minutes to drive where you need to go. Intentionally speak more slowly. Try meditation.

3: Make yourself wait—Put yourself in situations where you know patience will be required. Intentionally visit a popular restaurant or coffee drive-up during prime hours. Your favorite TV show? Record it and wait until the weekend to watch it. Or go grocery shopping on a Saturday mid-morning.

4: Say no to multi-tasking—Everyone today seems busy with too many responsibilities and projects to juggle. The temptation to multi-task is great (if even achievable), but trying to do too many things at once creates a sense of hurriedness, which frequently follows us in all aspects of our lives.


Practicing patience: in-the-moment

While the above strategies can be very effective in helping us develop patience over time, we still need help being more patient in the meantime (and in situations we haven’t anticipated). If you find yourself becoming impatient in a given moment, try these these strategies. You’ll love them for their immediate effects!

5: Take a deep breath. Shallow breathing is one of the first signs of impatience. Take a deep breath in through the nose and exhale slowly through the mouth. Deep breaths not only calm your mind, but they also increase the amount of oxygen in your blood and decrease the concentration of stress hormones.

6: Think about the person creating your wait. Imagine being in that person’s shoes. Perhaps it’s someone going through a stack of coupons in a grocery store line; they’re doing so because it’s the only way to feed their family. That speeding driver that just cut you off? Imagine their partner in the car is in labor and about to give birth.

7: Imagine the outcome. The person in front of you at the fast-food drive-up just ordered $50 worth of food. So what’s the worst that can happen if it takes five minutes away from your lunch hour? Or you’re in a long line for the Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios. Think about the reward that awaits when it’s finally your turn.

8: Take a time-out. If the stress of waiting is causing you to overheat, take a time-out. We’re no different than children in that regard. Sometimes we just need to step away from the situation to regain perspective about what’s really important. Speaking of which, next is the strategy we’ve found to be most helpful in all situations.

9: Think gratitude. In a long line of traffic exiting an event? List the good things in your life—your family, good friends, good health, your animal companion, having a place to call home, fresh air and nature, clean water to drink. You get the gist. Before you know it, you’ll be so absorbed in this happiness exercise, you’ll forget about being in a rush.