By Anna Goldfarb
Nov. 5, 2018
My jaw clenches when Hulu videos buffer. I huff and puff when stuck in a sluggish line at a coffee shop. Slow cars in the fast lane send me into a curse-filled tizzy. I’m ashamed how quickly I lose my cool over these minor things. I’ve often wished I could be a more patient person, but it’s overwhelming to know where to start.
Patience, the ability to keep calm in the face of disappointment, distress or suffering, is worth cultivating. The virtue is associated with a variety of positive health outcomes, such as reducing depression and other negative emotions. Researchers have also concluded that patient people exhibit more prosocial behaviors like empathy, and were more likely to display generosity and compassion.
A 2012 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology identified three distinct expressions of patience: 1. Interpersonal, which is maintaining calm when dealing with someone who is upset, angry or being a pest. 2. Life hardships, or finding the silver lining after a serious setback. And 3. Daily hassles, which is suppressing annoyance at delays or anything irritating that would inspire a snarky tweet.
The good news is that same study found that patience as a personality trait is modifiable. Even if you’re not a particularly patient person today, there’s still hope you can be a more patient person tomorrow. So if you find yourself getting exasperated more than you’d like, here are ways to keep those testy impulses in check.
Identify your trigger(s)
Impatience is the “fight” component of the fight-or-flight response, according to M.J. Ryan, executive coach and author of The Power of Patience: How This Old-Fashioned Virtue Can Improve Your Life. “That’s why you’re honking at people or annoyed in the line or whatever it is you’re doing that’s your impatient behavior,” she said.
Amygdalae are the culprit.