“He that can have Patience, can have what he will” – Benjamin Franklin
Would you like to become a more patient person? Are you constantly snapping at friends and family for seemingly meaningless issues? What about your enemies? Are you ever patient towards them? Did you get angry the last time someone cut you off in traffic?
In this post I am going to show you how to become a more patient person. Most importantly, however, I am going to show you why patience is one of the most important qualities that a person can develop.
Why is patience so important?
It is said that of all the negative emotions it is anger that is the worst. In fact, the Buddha said that a single moment of anger can destroy the results of a hundred of years of positive deeds. Such is the corrupting and degrading effect that anger has on one’s mind and the people around you. Anger has been the motivating force behind the world’s most heinous acts and crimes. Everyday we hear about angry outbursts leading to:
- Violent acts
- Harsh speech
- Wars and battles
- The destruction of friendships and alliances
So, if anger is the worst of all the negative emotions then surely the direct antidote is the king of all qualities? And what is that antidote? Why it is patience, of course! Patience is the way to deal with and destroy your anger. Only by becoming patient will you finally come to live a peaceful and hate free life. If everyone reacted with patience there would be a lot less suffering and hurt in this world. And that is why it is so important.
How to become more patient with friends, enemies and circumstances
Now I would like to give you some simple suggestions for how you can become a more patient person. These tactics will not work over night. They will take months and years of dedication and committed effort. But, if you can stay focussed and driven you will find that your patience develops quite naturally. After all, I truly believe that we are all patient creatures at heart.
1. Look at the bigger picture
One of the best ways to become a more patient person is to take a step back from your scenario and look at the bigger picture. Sometimes in the heat of the moment this can be extremely hard to do. But, if you can manage to remind yourself of this technique you can be assured that you will see results.
So what do I mean by “look at the bigger picture”? Well, it is quite simple. The next time a friend does something to hurt you and you get angry try taking a look at the cause of their actions. Why did they do it? Did they do it to deliberately hurt you? I don’t think so. It is much more likely that they behaved in that way because there is something going wrong with their life at the moment. They might have just lost their job or been cut off in traffic. Viewing the bigger picture like this can help you get some perspective.
But you can take it even further. You can apply this on a bigger and more societal level. For example, if someone does something to piss you off you might want to think about the tough upbringing that they had or the fact that their weren’t presented with the same opportunties for growth that you were. As a result of missing out on those opportunities they decided, at that last moment with you, to do something nasty. But, instead of getting angry at them you are going to react with patience.
2. Understand that your enemy is your greatest teacher
One of the most significant ideas that the Buddha introduced to his students was the idea that your enemy is your greatest teacher. Why? Because only your enemies can give you the chance to develop true patience. If there was no one around to harm you, there would be no chance to develop real patience.
Let’s think about this logically for a second. We are people who are interested in self development. Some of us may meditate while others might just be interested in being better people. Regardless of what we are trying to do with our lives or which religion we belong to, we can all see the advantage of developing patience. Without it our ethics would be incomplete.
So, the next time someone tries to hurt your feelings I want you to try to remember that this person is the kindest person you know. This person is your teacher, your guru, your master. This person is presenting you with an opportunity to develop the king of all virtues – patience. How could you possibly hate such a person?
3. Use your logic
The next suggestion that I want to give you is the idea that you can use logic to become more patient. In particular we should use the logic of cause and effect.
Let’s pretend that you are a pretty angry sort of a person. You might snap at your parents without much warning, yell at your coworkers or even criticize your friends for their minor faults. Over time you will find that people stop wanting to be around you. People start moving away. No body wants to be associated with an angry person because it just doesn’t feel very good.
So the next time you are presented with an opportunity for anger why not remind yourself of the logical progression of that anger? Why not remind yourself that if you continue to react like this you will soon find yourself alone, bitter and not very happy? This type of logic works.
4. Look inwards, not outwards
A funny thing happens when you start to meditate. You begin to realize that most of the problems that you experience in life are due to your perception of certain events, not the actual events themselves. In line with this I put it to you that one of the most powerful ways to become more patient is to learn to look inwards, no outwards.
Think of the last time you got angry. Think of the last time you lost your cool. Now be truly honest with yourself and ask whether or not the angry response had anything to do with you. I am betting that it did. Now as yourself this question: would everyone have become angry in that situation? If you answer is “no” then you can be certain that it had a lot to do with you.
The next time you feel like getting angry it would be excellent if you could try to become aware of it. Instead of focussing so much on the object of your anger you should look inwards at your own mind and your own reaction. Is it reasonable? Is it helpful? Is the anger really going to make the situation more bearable? I doubt it. Learning to look inwards is a fantastic skill to have in life because you will finally have a solution for all of the problems that the universe throws at you. The solution is you.
5. Understand that patience is the easier option
I don’t know about you but when I get angry it ruins my whole day. If someone did something to me and I allowed myself to become angry I stay angry for a long time. I might spend the whole day cursing that person or the situation that happened. It really is a lot of work.
One way to become more patient is to realize that patience is, in reality, the much easier option. You don’t have to do anything. All you have to do is not do something; get angry! This is quite hard for some people to accept at first but I guarantee that patience is easier than anger. It is easier in the short term and it is easier in the long term.
The next time you want to get angry and some one or some thing try and remember that anger is a lot of work. It stresses you out and it makes you feel lousy. Being patient is so much easier! This is one time when laziness is a good thing!
6. Think about the impact on others
I have several extremely powerful memories from my early childhood. One of these memories has stuck with me my entire life and it pops up all the time. The memory is of my father yelling at my mother and then watching the two get in to a big screaming match. The event left an indelible mark on my mind.
However, one good thing that came from that memory is the awareness that anger really does hurt other people. One single angry outburst can stay with a person their entire life. Take the example of domestic violence – a man may lose his temper and hit his girlfriend and for the rest of that poor woman’s existence she feels fearful and afraid of connecting to men. It really is very sad.
Next time you are thinking that anger is a good idea for the particular scenario that you are in I want you to remember how much it could damage the recipient. Is that something you really want to do? Do you really want to be that person?
Patience is a practice. It takes time and it takes effort. We are so accustomed to anger that we find the natural state of patience to be quite foreign. However, as I mentioned, patience is something that is innate in all of us. The tips I have given you today are just methods that will help you reconnect with it. I hope they are of some benefit to somebody.
If you have any other tips or ideas about patience please leave a comment. Patience is a person favorite quality of mine and I am always interested to learn new ways to work on it.