You may feel the slow, accumulating frustration that builds with being on hold with a customer service representative for 20 minutes or the quick snap at your barista when he takes longer than usual to make your latte—chances are that everyone has wondered how to be more patient every now and then.

Let’s face it: technology advances and constant reachability can deprive us of our time to rest and reset. Even in the workplace, we’re expected to be available 24-hours a day. Now, your boss is in your pocket, your friends are in your pocket, and it’s very easy to have those expectations go both ways. You feel the stress of other people being impatient with you, wanting you to immediately respond. In this context, you’re also expecting people to immediately respond to your needs, even if it’s not conscious.

In addition to making even the nicest people more irritable, the growing inability to tolerate delay can also have some negative effects on your health. Impatience gives rise to stress, and stress has a lot of health implications. When we’re under stress, it causes chronic low inflammation in the body. And, of course, inflammation is the culprit behind a series of problems that span everything from acne to gut to digestion issues.  

In this world that expects instant satisfaction all the time, how can one cultivate patience?

Our key advice is below. 

1. Practice meditation and mindfulness

We advise using a meditation and mindfulness practice in your life—whether you notice your impatience or not. Mindfulness or meditation can help you become more present and integer, teach you how to control your breath, and really focus on just being aware of the things that are happening in your body and around you. In turn, that helps with being less reactive.

Even if you’re simply sitting for 10 minutes in silence daily, that could be enough to achieve noticeable results. Once you implement this strategy, you are likely to become more initially aware of the physical signs of impatience like faster breathing and muscle tension, and can then slow your breath and bring yourself back to peace of mind quicker.

2. Practice self-talk in a positive way

You can be your own patience superhuman. How to do that? We recommend to enable your positive inner voice. When you’re feeling particularly overcome with impatience, say: “I have time, everything doesn’t have to happen at once, other people are doing their best, and I’m doing my best.” You can even make it a sort of a mantra, repeat it with your breath until it becomes natural.

When you’re practicing this type of positive self-talk, you should acknowledge your current emotions and remind yourself that what you’re feeling is only for a while. You don’t have to come up with a solution for the time being—your first step should always be calming yourself down.

3. Be patient with yourself

Naturally, on the journey of becoming a Zen-like patience master, it’s important to remember to be patient with yourself. It’s okay if you mess up sometimes. Practice self-compassion when you do get impatient, because it’s a skill that you build over time. We’re constantly bombarded with getting things right away and other people expecting us to do things right away, so it will take a bit of time to practice and build the skill again.

4. Remind yourself that life is finite

If all you try fails, remind yourself that life is finite. We believe that understanding your limited time on earth can help you better understand your priorities, especially when it comes to little things.

Deep relationships, love, meaningfulness, and purpose rise above all, and it is easier for us to disentangle from the small details of our daily lives and be patient when things don’t go your way. This might not feel as helpful in the heat of the moment but having perspective can help you take a step back when you’re about to lose patience. Naturally, impatience is linked to anger and irritability. So, consider it the “carpe diem” approach to patience.

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