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If driving has taught me anything, it’s that we as a society are quick to drop our “patience is a virtue” mantra the moment we actually need it. Due to the increased speed of everything around us—faster cars, quicker communication, moment-by-moment news stories all day long—we aren’t very good at being patient.

Being impatient negatively impacts your life. It increases stress, which can lead to possible health problems down the road. According to an article in CNN, studies found a “correlation between having sense of time urgency and impatience (TUI) and an increased risk of hypertension and high blood pressure.”

Mentally and emotionally, impatience is both a result of and conducive to living selfishly. It is the little child’s voice we still live with, loudly shouting, “I need this, and I need it now!” Many never outgrow the terrible twos in this sense. When they don’t get their way in a prompt manner, they throw the forty year old version of a temper tantrum.

The fact is, you don’t need “it” now, whatever it may be. From something as trivial as a car in front of you missing a green light, to something as big as a job promotion, you can wait. Not only that, you should.

But why? We’ve been told “patience is a virtue” since we were little. Is there any real truth to this common saying?

Yes! Simply put, patient people are happier people.

In his book, Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living, Allan Lokos points out the misconception many people have that “an emotional state is embedded in us and we can’t free ourselves from it.” In reality, people are much more complex than that.  Patience, just like dependability, honesty, and follow-through, is a learned behavior. Lokos stresses mindfulness, or being aware of a situation and your  reactions to it, as a way to develop a patient demeanor. “We sense impatience, annoyance and anger as they begin to arise within us and then we invite our calmer, wiser self to be present.”

Learning to live at peace in the moment isn’t always easy. But patience is a sign of emotional maturity as opposed to the selfish nature of impatience. Here are a few quick tips for those moments throughout the day that drive you crazy:

1. Breath and Relax. Most of us harbor tension and stress in our shoulders and arms without even realizing it. Teach yourself to stay loose throughout the day, as this will help you feel better and therefore less likely to become impatient.

2. Take a Step Out of the Situation. Is it that big of a deal? I mean, really. Will you even remember it at the end of the day? This is a good test to see if you tend toward becoming impatient over trivial things.

3. Distract Yourself With The Present Moment. Wow! You’re living right now! Where are you? What’s going on? Take a look around and realize that this moment is unique and special, and won’t ever be reproduced quite the same way. Instead of trying to speed up time, focus on things you actually have control over. One of them is your choice to be patient.

“”Study Says Patience Is More Than A Virture,” last modified November 20, 2002, http://articles.cnn.com/2002-11-20/health/type.a.heart_1_tui-impatience-young-adults?_s=PM:HEALTH

Allan Lokos, Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living (New York:Penguin) 2012: 19, 21.

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