The best way to deal with impatience is to not become impatient in the first place. A 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 a passer-by insults you, shrug. If you’re in a long queue, shrug. Shrug when a restaurant mucks up a booking. Shrug when the car has a flat tyre. Shrug when someone makes a mistake. Shrug when you make a mistake.
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: we get good at reducing a problem to a mere inconvenience. And, it reduces the intensity of what we are feeling. Our distress evaporates.
It’s not just faults we can overlook. We can use de Bono’s 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, such as the minor hassles in life 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.
If you have been practising de Bono’s shrug in the instances which don’t matter, you may find yourself coping better than you might have expected when serious incidents like these arise. You might, after feeling the initial distress, just feel like shrugging. In which case, do so.
And obviously, take steps to get your car back.
Q. Is that it? Shrug?
Why not apply the other tips you have learnt?
(i) Label your emotion and be specific. That will help alleviate the turmoil.
(ii) Remind yourself that it’s you making yourself distressed, not the theft.
(iii) How will you feel about this a year from now?
(iv) Is a button being pressed?
(v) Has a ‘should’ been violated?