“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” ~Saint Augustine
These days, everything is instant.
The instantaneous nature of so many aspects of modern society is empowering and also a great convenience. It’s so easy, in fact, that we take a lot of it for granted.
Travel has never been faster. Communicating has never been easier. Watching “On Demand” entertainment and enjoying other forms of media is not only affordable, but requires as little as a click of the mouse or a television remote control. Unfortunately, the instantaneous aspect of so many facets of our lives has its drawbacks.
When we text message someone and don’t receive a response back for several hours, we debate and ponder the “meaning” of the delay — as if any postponement is an insult, a display of disinterest, or a subtle message that requires a deep interpretation.
“Instant” living gives way to impatience.
Because everything is instant, we are so much more likely to be impatient in many aspects (if not every aspect!) of our lives. Slight delays in travel feel like a world of inconvenience.
When a call goes to voice-mail, it seems like we can never get in touch. The tragedy of modern, instantaneous living is how important patience is, and how difficult it is to develop patience as a result.
Patience is so important.
As Saint Augustine said, patience is the companion to wisdom — practicing, developing, and nurturing patience is a cornerstone to happiness and living a calmer, well-rounded life.
Patience provides us with a great feeling of inner balance and strength; it provides us with a strong sense of mental-emotional endurance, helps us better focus upon our goals and priorities in life, and so much more. With this in mind, here are 7 unconventional ways to practice and become more patient:
1.) Read, Read, Read
Reading requires patience!
Although I’m a writer, I’m not a very fast reader. When I was younger, I would get so impatient trying to get through books for high school that I would often abandon reading them altogether. One unconventional way to develop patience is to read more.
If you don’t have time to read for hours at a time, read a book at a pace of a handful of pages — even sporadically over several weeks.
No matter how long it takes you to finish the book, enduring the time it takes to complete reading will help you achieve a greater sense of patience.
2. Shift Your Perspective
Impatience is often rooted in a difference of perspective.
I recently shared a personal story on DaveUrsillo.com about how a difference or lack or perspective can give cause to impatience, anger, and conflict.
Think about it: whatever we see in life is from a limited perspective — through our own eyes, processed by our brain, interpreted by our judgment, through our influenced by our culture, values, society, and so much more.
3. Grow Plants (Or Orchids, If You Dare!)
Although I just moved to the city of Boston and have no dirt to work with, back in Rhode Island, I am a gardener. I’m not afraid to say it, mostly because of how my experience gardening started:
Years ago when I was going through some tough times, I began to immerse myself in nature.
I began growing my own plants, flowers, and vegetables. I was desperate to feel better mentally and emotionally, and growing plants and gardening gave me remarkable peace and a new-found sense of patience.
If you really want to be more patient, purchase some orchids, learn about their growing patterns and try to maintain them.
Orchids are tough! Orchids can live for months — even years — without sprouting a stem or a flower, but they are still alive and well. I have owned several orchids, one for over three years that flowers routinely, and some of which that haven’t flowered in over a year.
With gardening — especially with orchids — you learn that patience is the key to success.
4. Cook More (and, From Scratch!)
If receiving your order of food or a coffee from a fast-food establishment exceeds two minutes, the order is considered too slow.
To become more patient (and to live healthier!), avoid fast-food altogether:
Cook for yourself more often — and cook from scratch.
Cooking from scratch requires great patience and practice: the more you cook, the more patience you need. Cooking nurtures a greater sense of patience, provides a great sense of personal achievement and helps you learn an important skill-set that is sure to impress family and friends whom you care about.
5. Do More Creative Work
Self-expression is not only its own version of creative therapy, but the likes of painting, sculpting, web design and other creative outlets require and help develop greater perseverance.
Creative self-expression can be frustrated when ideas don’t “click,” but through patience, the ideas will inevitably connect if you are patient enough to express them in physical form.
6. Improvise Adventure; Explore New Areas in New Ways
When I lived in Washington D.C., I would occasionally take my journal and MP3 player and aimlessly walk down the street through different areas of the city.
At times, I would get lost, feel turned around or lonely or out of place.
But what I realized is that I would always find my way back home, so long as I remained patient, balanced and focused. Exploring areas you are unfamiliar with can help you foster a greater sense of patience.
7. Improvise Your Schedule
Keeping a schedule can help keep track of your tasks and obligations, and ultimately help your workload and efficiency.
Every now and again, try mixing things up by improvising your schedule.
Do something on a whim, travel without an itinerary, make plans on the fly. As with exploration in point #6 above, things won’t always work out and will certainly test your sense of patience.
However, when you endure and stay focused, the reward is incredibly satisfying and you recognize how valuable the gift of patience is — and that it is much easier than you had believed.