How can I exercise more patience with anything?

A student asked me:

How can I exercise more patience with anything?

It helps to be more focused on the processes than on the outcomes. When your mind is too fixated on getting a certain outcome, it’s very natural to get more and more impatient. Whereas, if you are fixated on the process, and on gaining more insights from the process itself, you become less concerned about the outcome. And because you are drawing value and insights from the process itself, failed attempts will be less frustrating as you begin to see the failed attempts as invaluable lessons on improving the process.

And always approach each attempt with kindness, whether kindness to others or to yourself. Do your utmost best to train yourself to refrain from the harsh self-criticism, and constantly practice being kind to yourself in your struggles and failings. It’s because we are harsh to ourselves that we hate the struggle and failure even more. And that in itself makes us more impatient to the possible undesired reality that we might screw up yet again. But that fear and disdain of the harshness that we direct to ourselves would just further compound the fear and anxiety to do things well.

So if you are kind to yourself, you would be less concerned about the self-directed punishments, and it’s be a much lower-stakes event to worry about. The lower stakes, the lower the chances of feeling impatient as well.

Author: Jonathan Y. H. Sim

Jonathan Sim is an Instructor with the Department of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore. He is passionate about teaching and he continues to research fun and innovative ways of engaging students to learn effectively. He has been teaching general education modules to a diverse range of undergraduate students and adult learners at the University.

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