Do good things really come to those who wait?
Research tells us that, yes, there's a relationship between patience and well-being. Various studies have found that people who are more patient experience less low mood, are more empathetic and feel greater gratitude. Your level of patience may even be related to your level of happiness.
It seems our parents and teachers were right when they reminded us that patience is a virtue. But it's also a skill, one you can learn and practice.
Ready to become a more patient person? Experts advise starting with mindfulness practices that help you become more aware of where you are and what you're doing right now. Like anything worthwhile, it'll take some work to improve your mindfulness. But if you commit to the effort, you'll reap the rewards that come with being good to yourself — lower blood pressure, less stress and anger, and an increasingly positive outlook.
These three practices have all been shown to help build mindfulness and improve patience.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) — MBSR has been shown to actually strengthen areas of the brain used to regulate emotions and process learning and memory. Usually taught in an eight-week class led by professionals trained and certified in MBSR, this program includes breathing, stretching and awareness exercises.
With practice, you can use these skills to increase your acceptance of what's happening in the present moment. On a practical level, that means transforming things such as traffic jams from anger triggers to mere inconveniences that you understand and accept are out of your control.
Meditation — Studies have shown that people who meditate have larger volumes of gray matter in the areas of the brain that regulate response control. That may be why meditators have a more positive outlook, are more emotionally stable and are more mindful.
With continued practice, meditation can help you summon the patience to deal stress-free with life's daily annoyances, from long lines in the grocery store to tedious work meetings.
Mindful movement — Yoga, aikido, tai chi and qigong are all forms of mindful movement designed to help strengthen your body and your mind. Many research studies have shown that mindful movement practice helps reduce stress, negative thinking and depression.
These controlled exercises teach you to focus on your breath and your body as you perform specific movements. A happy side effect is improved patience as you repeat the process over and over, gradually learning to quiet your mind.
Practicing patience can help you learn to enjoy the times "in between." The stoplights, the grocery store lines, the elevator rides. The impatient you likely reached for your phone, anxious to fill the time between where you were and where you were going. The increasingly patient you keeps your phone in your pocket and, instead, engages your senses, appreciating the moment.
Researchers have shown that appreciation can lead to greater life satisfaction. Seems our parents and teachers were also right when they urged us to stop and smell the roses.