3 Easy Ways To Become More Patient

Editor’s note: the original version of this article was first posted on the C2C in 2010.

Writers do a lot of waiting.

For instance, when we are waiting for our novel to be finished, it kinda feels like we’re at a bus stop, except that instead of waiting 5 or 15 minutes for the bus to arrive, it may take about 1-10 years for our bus driver to come around. Oh yeah, and there’s no bus schedule either, so we never know whether it will be in fact one year, or 2, or 3, or 4 or 5 or the whole 10 before our novel is finished and published.

So, if you are a writer like me, or someone who has to wait a long time to get something they really want in life, what do you do while you’re waiting?

Well, there are three things you can do today to help you become a more patient person. Patience helps lessen your stress level and that’s good for your overall health–and a healthy writer is a happy writer.

So here we go:

1.  Meditation

Two things are often said about meditation.

1. That it’s easy, and

2. That there’s no wrong way to do it.

Now that I’ve managed to establish a daily meditation routine that works for me, I can now share with you what I have come to learn about meditation:

1. It isn’t easy.

2 There is a wrong way to do it.

It has taken me years to find the right meditation practice for me and for it to finally have a great influence on my life. I can now say with 100% certainty that meditation has vastly improved my overall happiness and well-being. I used to be anxious and lost in my own thoughts most of the time. Even in the middle of a group of people, I would feel restless, and sometimes completely out of it. This meant I was often impatient, and impatience led me to become angry, and this anger led to me to unhappiness. But it’s been a good 6 months or so since I have felt truly anxious and filled with worry. A little anxiety here and there is normal, but when it keeps you from doing anything, that’s when it becomes a problem. But nowadays I can move forward without falling part. I feel balanced, at peace, and happy nearly most of the time.

So, that is why I believe that everyone should have a daily meditation routine, not just for spirituality purposes (although if you are a spiritual person it definitely helps) but mainly for health and well-being purposes.

So, how do you start?  Often people are told to pay attention to their breathing first. Because, as the experts say, this is very easy. But you might find, like I did, that paying attention to your breath is a very boring and hard thing to do. Your thoughts will get in the way, you’ll want to watch TV, or surf the internet, you’ll want to write, or read or think about all the crap you have to do, or if you’re tired, you might even fall asleep. I think that’s why many people give up meditation right away. They don’t get it. It’s not doing anything, they think. They don’t feel it, so they must be doing it wrong. And they are doing it wrong. I’ll explain why in a minute, but first, here is what I recommend:

Find a nearby park, go there alone, and start your meditation by simply becoming aware. Awareness is where everything begins. Just start by paying attention. Don’t try to stop your thinking, just pay attention to your thoughts. Notice how you feel, what you say, notice the world around you. You will find yourself thinking a hundred miles per hour, dozens of thoughts running through your head, you might have a moment when you are aware–and the very next moment you will be lost in the past, or in the future, or in your worries, or in your anxieties. This. is. o. kay. It is a progress. If you are at the park, you have already succeeded at meditation.

Now, be aware for just 15 min, then go home. Do this again the next day and the next day and the next day. At first you will not notice any difference. You will think you are wasting your time. You will think that everyone around you thinks you are crazy for walking or sitting in a park alone. (They probably do.) But don’t worry about them. Just do it. Show up. Every day. Take your 15 min, and just try to be aware. This is the important part, the trying.

And that’s why people do meditation wrong. They think that they have to become friggin’ Buddha by tomorrow. They think meditation is about the product, but you see that is very wrong! Mediation, of all things, is about the process. It’s about the trying. Because if you manage to become aware for even one second during your meditation practice then–congratulations! You did it! That’s the whole point. It’s the opposite of the product-based thinking you are used to in everyday life, where everything needs to be done now, everything needs to end now, everything needs to be accomplished now. But meditation teaches you that the only thing that needs to happen now is… now.

Okay, so you want to keep this up for a couple of months, and then when you got the hang of it, when you’ve managed to be aware for longer periods of time, then you can focus on your breathing, then on your body, and then move on to the more challenging meditations that I have mentioned in previous posts. (See: Floating Above The Water” a post about writing and spirituality, and “Push Back” a post about writing during the difficult times in your personal life. In both posts I recommend specific exercises, authors, and books on Mediation.)

After just a year of daily mediation, I promise you will start to see DRAMATIC and I mean DRAMATIC results. You will become more patient, you will become more aware of your likes and dislikes, you will be able to make better decisions because you will be in tune with your body and with your mind. You will worry less. You will be less anxious. And finally, not only will you LOVE meditation, you will look forward to it, and it will be like brushing your teeth. You’ll do it every day without really thinking about it, and it will be just another necessary cleansing ritual.

2.  Gratitude

Someone mentioned gratitude in the comments section when I was speaking about how to regain your sense of power the other day, and although I believe gratitude could help you feel more powerful, I personally use gratitude to increase my ability to be patient. You can start by making a list in a journal every morning of the 10 things you are grateful for. You can carry a notepad around so that you can list these things as you think of them. That’s how I got started. But now, whenever I have a moment alone I will think about all the things I am grateful for.

For instance, have you ever thought to be grateful for highways when you were stuck in traffic? You can easily get rid of your impatience in that situation by thinking about how lucky you are that someone took the time to decide that highways not only would be free but that there would be signs to tell you were to go.  There’s even a space on the side should your car break down! How thoughtful is that? What if someone never thought of patrolling these highways, or making them safe for you? What if cars never cared for pedestrians? If you don’t see what I’m talking about, you might want to visit places like Mexico City where literally your life is hanging on a thread while you use a crosswalk (by the way I’m not dogging El D.F., I think it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world! But seriously, they got to enforce their traffic laws!)

Gratitude reminds us of everything we already have, and makes us realize that we don’t really need much more. It also reminds us of how far we have come, and how much we have gained, so we don’t feel like we really need to gain much more. We’ve accomplished so much already! So let’s just be happy and grateful for what we have.

3. Humility

Are you intimidated by others who seemed to have made it so quickly and effortlessly? Are you impatient to get where they are? I used to be the same way, but now I just make a conscious choice to learn more about these “overnight successes.” When I do, I am immediately humbled by how hard some of the people I most admire had to work in order to succeed.

For instance, did you know that Abraham Lincoln suffered major Depression throughout his entire life? That most of his family died when he was very young, and that he was just a bookish kid from the farm who literally taught himself The Law {he never went to law school} and then he became a lawyer all on his own? He’s known as the best President of the United States, and even he had to go through a lot of crap!

So why so impatient, my friend? We all got a long road ahead of us. You’ll get there one day. You just got to pass through the hard part. Just tell yourself that every time you are impatient: “I just go to get through the hard part of my story and then I can get to the good part.” Because there will always be a good part. Don’t believe me?

Check out the odd jobs that some legendary writers had to patiently put up with before they hit it big: “The Early (Not-So-Literary) Jobs of 10 Great Authors.”

I would encourage you to learn the stories of all the heroes you admire. You might find that every, single one of them had a rough ride before they eventually achieved their own personal success. It never happens overnight.

But that is okay.

Just be aware. Be grateful. Then make sure to humble The Great Ones.

Who needs the bus ride anyway? The view from this bus stop is kinda great.

much patience,

Ollin

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6 comments on “3 Easy Ways To Become More Patient

  1. krpooler says:

    Dear Ollin, I always get in a reflective mode around this time of the year and this post really spoke to me. Patience is definitely a skill that takes a lot of self-discipline. Your reminders about meditation, gratitude and humility are spot on. Thanks for this simple,sage advice that serves as a powerful reminder to sit still long enough to get in touch with ourselves so we can move forward from a position of strength. Blessings to you for a New Year filled with health and hope and more “Top Ten Blogger of 2012” Pearls🙂

  2. wittytruth says:

    This is a truly inspired post within a particularly insightful blog I just discovered! I am a newcomer to blogging and am going through a period of transition in life, and frustration, impatience, and anxiety have become far too common. This post and your post on confidence really spoke to me on the cusp of this new year, and your ideas were relatable, inspiring, and insightful. Definitely for more than just burgeoning writers… Your words of wisdom are applicable to anyone who has a goal. I hope to provide the same level of life lesson in my own blog. Happy New Year and keep up the great work!

  3. I really like your tips about gratitude. We often take too many things for granted. Taking note of the everyday things and appreciating that they are there … Brother David Steindl-Rast urges us to”Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. Then it will be a really good day.”
    An enjoyable blog. Happy New Year Ollin. Look forward to your posts.

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