Finding Patience in an Instant Society

by Amy Steinberg Published Mar 20, 2018 Last updated Mar 20, 2018

In a day and age of “click and get” patience is a forgotten virtue. You may have heard someone say that they are not a patient person. They’re right; they aren’t patient. None of us are. Patience is something we must learn and practice; it’s not something that we are or are not.

Patience is a challenge, and when it doesn’t come easy, we can become frustrated. Some people naturally struggle with patience, but in our world of instant gratification, we’ve created a society with a low tolerance of frustration. Frustration in an instant society has caused us to treat everything, from inanimate objects to people, as disposable if we aren’t immediately filled with the desired joy or satisfaction we want.

Learning patience allows us to experience a sense of fulfillment and happiness we don’t always receive when our needs or wants are met immediately. It may relieve our stress in the moment, but it does little to give us more control over our actions, decisions, and life in general. “Worth the wait” isn’t just an empty phrase; having patience can afford us the opportunity to find greater fulfillment from things that require time, effort, and perseverance.

Why Wait?
With endless opportunities for instant gratification, it’s no wonder we become easily frustrated. Don’t want to wait for a book or movie to arrive by mail? Download it and read or watch instantly. Don’t like waiting in line to renew the tags on your car? Go online and avoid the DMV altogether.

Even e-commerce and digital media understands that our instant society doesn’t like to wait. Amazon’s same-day delivery option allows you to order everything from groceries to the forgotten gift you need for your niece’s birthday party and receive it the same day, sometimes within hours of ordering. After dinner—made with the ingredients that arrived in your same day Amazon delivery—turn on Netflix and binge an entire season of television instead of waiting for the next episode.

Our instant society has created fewer and fewer reasons for us to practice patience. The good news is like any learned behavior, it is possible to learn how to ditch the hurry, hurry mentality we’ve grown accustomed to and practice patience.

Practice creates Patience
If we’re constantly rushed and faced with a sense of impulsiveness that pushes us through our day, how can we find time to practice being patient? In short, we must make space for it. It takes a constant effort, time, and of course, patience. There are opportunities for you to learn to be patient multiple times a day, every day. You simply need to look for them.

Look for the triggers that make you impatient – A little introspection, in this case, goes a long way. When faced with a situation that gets your stress level high or negative thoughts running, step back and regroup before reacting hastily.

Become mindful of your frustrations – The feeling of overwhelm creates a sense of frustration that causes us to become hateful or impatient of things that disrupt our plans or daily activities. Rob White, author, and consultant offers these steps to mindfulness when we are in a state of impatience brought on by feeling hurried or distracted:

  1. list and number all the things that are pulling you every which way.
  2. reduce the list to things that must be done.

By weeding out those things that aren’t necessary, we can see there is more opportunity to slow down and focus on the things that have a high priority.

Wait for it – No really, wait. Sometimes the only way to find patience is to make yourself wait. Big goals and dreams don’t come to fruition overnight. Learn to get uncomfortable with waiting but remind yourself that waiting, while uncomfortable, is not impossible.

One way to teach yourself patience, and how to actively wait, is to learn a new skill like a foreign language or how to play an instrument. The act of practicing the language or the instrument repeatedly teaches how to delay gratification to receive a bigger reward. The next time you’re considering ordering your groceries online and having them delivered same day, make the trip on your own. Who knows? You may discover an unexpected sale or a new item you’ve heard friends raving about.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a deep breath when you find yourself faced with a frustrating coworker or the lunch rush in the cafeteria. A deep breath can calm your mind and body and ease the tension that’s likely mounting, giving you a moment of calm before the next interruption.