Does anyone like waiting?

At the beginning of the “Despicable Me” movie, the main character and supervillain, Gru, opts to use his freeze-ray gun instead of waiting in line for coffee.  It’s a scene that appeals to the frustration and irritability caused by a somewhat uncomfortable situation (at least for those in need of a caffeine fix!).  Even in today’s world of instant gratification, waiting is a fact of life.  We wait in line, wait in traffic, wait for flights, wait for the cable company, wait for colleagues to complete a task, etc.

Like Gru, we are faced with daily situations that test our ability to remain calm under pressure.   Patience may be a virtue, but it’s not one of mine.   I can become so consumed with efficiency, productivity and achievement that I don’t see the impact of this time maximizing behavior – the stress I cause myself and others.  Fortunately, patience is like a muscle that can be strengthened with practice.  Since most of us don’t have a freeze-ray gun, how do we build patience?

Key techniques for becoming more patient from psychology experts include:

  1. Keep time urgency in check.  Assess what is urgent and what isn’t.  Avoid approaching every task as an “ASAP” one, and resist the need to constantly check the clock.
  2. Find hobbies that force your mind to focus.  Activities that require your full attention where you have to concentrate and learn a new skill (such as tennis, dance or a playing a musical instrument), take time to develop and help to dispel a false sense of urgency.
  3. Recognize your own triggers and step away. What are the signs that you personally start to exhibit when you feel yourself becoming increasingly agitated?  Does your breathing or heart rate increase?  When you know and can see the signs of impatience, stop yourself from an immediate response.   Do something that calms you down such as a deep breathing exercise.  This will help you regain your perspective.  Taking a little time to formulate your thoughts and reaction, may prevent you from making a challenging situation, even worse.

How do you manage patience or impatience?