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Cultivating Patience in Everyday Life

Carrie Steckl earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a Minor in Gerontology from Indiana University – Bloomington in 2001. She has spent over ...Read More

My list of things to do today was about a mile long, but I was feeling pretty good about it this morning. Items had been separated into “work” tasks and “home” tasks, prioritized, and given time estimates so I could forge ahead knowing that my plan for the day was realistic.

Or so I thought.

It’s now 1:15 PM, and I was supposed to have this blog post completed three hours ago. But two of the items on my list that were placed before this blog post involved technology. They were supposed to be simple procedures: create an account for a company’s website so that I can start working on a project for the organization, and access some key materials to use in a future teaching role.

But the hope of simplicity was not meant to be. Instead, creating my account proved fraught with synchronization and activation problems, and accessing those key materials required multiple levels of approvals I had not counted on. After too many emails, phone calls, and headaches, neither issue is resolved and I am woefully behind on the remaining tasks on my list.

I am not telling you this to vent (well, maybe a little bit), but rather to share with you my methods for cultivating patience in everyday life. My day so far is not unlike anyone else’s – we’ve all been here and we all know that feeling of desperation as we’re staring at the clock while being put on hold by a technician to discuss our apparently very strange case with a supervisor. We all know that sinking feeling when we realize there is no way in hell we are going to accomplish everything on our list today – and that will make tomorrow all the more difficult.

What this kind of day is really about is patience. Let’s face it, when we’re faced with barriers to our productivity that are totally out of our control, we just want to stand up and yell, “Everyone please get your act (or whatever you’d like to call it) together RIGHT NOW so I can get my stuff (again, other words optional) done!”

But how’s that working for you? Honestly, it doesn’t work very well for me – I usually end up more frustrated than ever. Here’s what I’ve learned to do instead:

Reframe. What I thought was mandatory to get done today may not really be mandatory. And though I thought it would be the end of the world if I didn’t cross everything off of my list, that is not really true. I find myself more patient when I reframe my mindset to one that focuses on acceptance over anger.

Forgive. It’s easy to become impatient, and even downright snippy, with those who we feel are messing up our day. But most of the time, these folks are doing their best to help us and if they’re not, it’s probably because their day is going as crappy as ours is. So forgive them; it feels a lot better that way.

Regroup. When you’ve reframed and forgiven, you’re now in a good spot to look at that list again and rework it to fit your new circumstances. By regrouping, we feel more organized and can face tomorrow with a new plan.

Have faith. Whatever your philosophical, spiritual, or religious leanings may be, tap into those for a good dose of faith. When we have faith in the idea that everything that needs to get done will get done in its own time, we can cultivate the patience that is so important for our own well-being.

Keep Reading By Author Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.
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