Key 29. Edward de Bono’s shrug.

The best way to deal with impatience is to not become impatient in the first place. And a good way to do that is to become easygoing.

How do we do that?

One good way called ‘The Shrug’ is described by Edward de Bono in his book, The Happiness Purpose. When you suffer a minor inconvenience, shrug. When someone insults you and it’s a one-off insult, shrug. If someone blocks your passage, shrug. Shrug when a restaurant mucks up a booking. Shrug when the car has a flat tyre.

Get good at shrugging and who knows, when a meteor smashes your home to smithereens you might just be able to shrug and get on with your life. How empowering that would be?! Imagine the resilience you would have!

When we overlook faults we get good at not seeing them. But if we look for faults we get good at finding them, which means we get good at finding things to test our patience. That’s the last thing we want.

De Bono’s shrug helps us see an incident in a healthy perspective. And, it can reduce the intensity of what we are feeling.

It’s not just faults we can overlook. We can use The Shrug to avoid being judgmental. If you see someone acting weirdly, shrug. If they have luminous hair, shrug. If they’re wearing four cardigans on a hot day, shrug.

In short, the trick to being a patient person is to develop patience in the good times, when it is easy to be patient. A good way to do that is to leave aside the small battles we don’t need to fight: the minor hassles and the things that aren’t done perfectly. By giving them De Bono’s shrug we will get good at not finding problems to complain about, so that when the awkward times do come, we are less likely to become impatient. As a result we will be less anxious, and more resilient.

The next time there is a ‘problem’, reduce it to an inconvenience. Apply De Bono’s shrug.

Q. ‘So if someone steals my car, I just shrug?’
Feel all the emotions that come to you, but at some point, when it feels real, shrug.
And obviously, take steps to get your car back.

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