“I just don’t have time to wait in line at the post office.” “Every time I’m in a hurry, I get stuck at every single red light; life just isn’t fair!” “I wish when I ask my partner or kids to do something they would do it right away.” Does this sound familiar?
We all would love to have more patience, but what is it exactly and how do we do it? Just why does it sometimes seem to be so difficult to practice? Patience is being willing or able to suppress restlessness or annoyance when faced with delay. It is keeping a clear head when confronted by opposition or difficulty.
This being said, when we’re restless or annoyed, it’s very difficult—actually impossible—to have a peaceful mind and to be in the moment, enjoying our life. And, for me, living my life in the moment, enjoying everything that life has to offer, is my highest ideal. So for me, being patient, learning to be patient, and practicing patience are absolutely key! With this in mind, I offer you these four steps that I have found invaluable for cultivating patience:
1. Don’t waste your precious moments.
When we feel impatient, our minds get so caught up in how things and other people should be that we take away our power to be present to life as it is. We simply don’t have the ability to respond to events and others with a clear mind in a loving manner. In other words, we are losing our precious moments to stress and circumstances that are completely out of our control!
My advice to you: Keep in mind that every moment of your life is precious. Give up the “should” for yourself and others, breathe, and return to the calm place inside where you have a deep knowing that everything is as it should be.
2. Go easy with your expectations.
Some days there are plenty of opportunities to lose our patience. This is especially true when our expectations of others, situations, and even ourselves are not being met. “Expectation is the root of all heartache,” says William Shakespeare, and I think he is on to something. We could easily say here that expectation leads to our impatience of life the way it is and takes away our ability to feel happiness and security—this is heartache!
My advice to you: Release the expectation that everything will go as planned or that people will do what you expect them to do.
3. Widen your perspective.
Sometimes in a moment of frustration, we forget that we can stop, take a step back, breathe deeply, and tap into our inner source of understanding and compassion where we are better able to see the truth of a situation. When we regularly practice being patient, we uncover a new level of awareness that allows us to see more possibilities than the ones we have become accustomed to. Our perspective widens; we truly become more open and receptive in all areas of our life.
My advice to you: Be willing to look at frustrating situations from a higher perspective. Stop and try to see the situation from another point of view.
4. Make a subtle shift in language.
As we become more mindful through a regular spiritual practice such as The Practice, our expectations start to become preferences and anticipation becomes choice. It is simply a matter of changing our vocabulary. This subtle shift in language reduces the sense of entitlement the mind often gets hooked on. Instead of taking the position that “We want or need this to happen,” we take the position of preference: “We prefer this or that.” If we end up with what we prefer, we are grateful. And if we don’t, well, that’s okay too. In acceptance lies peace and deep meaning.
My advice to you: Make an intention to begin letting go of your expectations and replacing them with preferences.
I know that patience can often be an elusive feeling; it truly is something that comes and goes, which is why I continue to practice it daily. I find it so important to go easy on myself when I lose my patience, knowing that I am human—not perfect. What has helped me greatly for over twenty years is this comforting prayer by St. Teresa of Avila.
As always, please share your thoughts with me, as I wait here so patiently.
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you;
All things pass away,
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things;
He who has God
finds he lacks nothing,
God alone suffices.
—St. Teresa of Avila
I find that life is about being aware! So once in a while, I notice myself start to feel a little lazy or just doing things in my day as if I were on “automatic pilot.” We are really good at “doing” as human beings, and there is always much to be done in our day, but we’re not so great at “being.” Really being mindful of my own patterns, knowing that I can sometimes procrastinate on important tasks at hand is major! I’m sure many of you can relate to this, as it truly is a common human quality. When I find myself settling into this pattern, I take a deep breath, come into the moment, and go to my personal motivation tools to bring myself back. Life is continuous ebb and flow, highs and lows, and it’s so important to be mindful of this. I say often in my workshops, “our awareness and ‘recovery time’ in our daily practice is key!” Below are some of my tips for “getting out of a ditch” and bringing enthusiasm back into your daily life.
- Get centered and be loving with yourself. Go inward and acknowledge, accept, and notice that this is where you are right now in your life. Don’t allow your mind to speak negatively about yourself, or to tell you this is not ok and that there is something wrong with you! Awareness is key, so have gratitude, accept and know deeply that you have all you need inside to get back to where you want to be, and that “this too shall pass.”
- Be clear on what it is you want. Sometimes we lose our enthusiasm and motivation when we’re not really sure what we’re looking for. Spend some quiet time contemplating what you want, and where you want to be, so you don’t fall into the trap of being overwhelmed and feeling like you’re floundering. Give yourself permission to be concrete, yet still flexible.
- Get your inspiration on. Whenever I feel low energy and not at my best, I know I can turn to other positive, motivational, and inspirational people to lift me up and nourish me. Whether they are nationally recognized or people in my inner circle, I know that I have instant positivity when it comes to this group. Find people that light you up, and warm your heart turn to them often. Check out my Reading For Inspiration list in The Practice for some great suggestions for getting started.
- Know that life is a journey. I said this earlier; life goes through many phases and stages of ups, downs, and curveballs. Please keep remembering this, so that when you’re feeling a little down you can know deeply that “this too shall pass” and things are about to get better. Have confidence and faith that life brings you exactly what you need every moment; not what you may want but definitely what you need! Trust!
I love hearing from you! What do you do when you’ve found yourself off track? How do you get your motivation and enthusiasm back? Let me know!
I like describing myself as a student of life. I am always learning, studying, growing, expanding, and exploring. I believe strongly that my purpose in life is to pass along this knowledge to all of you; be a teacher. Actually, we are all meant to be students and teachers! So, as a student of life, I am not perfect. I always try to practice what I preach; be authentic. That being said I am a human being, so I slip off track from time to time. I believe strongly that leading a spiritual life means falling on and off the path and the teachings come from how quickly we recover; get back on the path! I need my constant reminders and my positive reinforcements just like anyone else. With all of this being said, there are five core ideas that have really helped me live my own authentic life, serving my highest and greatest ideal. Here are the five best things I have learned while on this spiritual path of life.
- Cultivate your ability to trust, have faith, accept, and surrender. This is a really big teaching for me. Deep down we know we cannot control what happens to us in life; but we try anyway! We cannot manipulate, force, or pressure anything into happening. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way in many instances, so my greatest motto is, “let go and trust; all is well.”
- Make yourself your priority. This is a tough one for many, but so important. Exactly how do we do this many ask me in my lectures and workshops. I always say, “make taking good care of your body and mind a priority, so you can continue to be of service to yourself and others.” You are the only “you” that you have. You cannot possibly live the amazing life you were born to live if you are not feeling your best! Mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, take care of yourself, daily. You’ll have so much more to give to everyone around you when you are your #1 priority.
- Get out of your own way! Life truly is what we make of it, and so often we create the very chaos that we so desire to be rid of. Our anxious thoughts, mindless actions, and necessity to please others create a confusing, stressful way of existence. Take yourself out of this endless loop, and do the work that you are able to do to create the life you desire. Incorporate healthy habits, make wise choices moment to moment, start your day in balance and stillness. Do your best to be your best!
- Don’t compare – EVER. Maybe my second biggest teaching, and one that creeps into my life from time to time. Theodore Roosevelt’s quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy” is so incredibly true! No matter what the situation, comparison is a complete joy killer. So I say to myself and I say to you right here, just don’t do it. Find something to bring your attention on when your mind begins to compare yourself to anyone else in this world. Using your breath, a sacred mantra, or an affirmation is powerful here. We are very unique and magnificent in our own ways, so how can it possibly make sense to compare yourself to another person? Let’s come back here to teaching number one, trust that whoever you are is enough. You do you, and let everyone and everything else be!
- Be compassionate and loving as often as you can. We absolutely have no idea what is going on in the lives of others; but unfortunately we think we do. So be the light when you walk into a room. Do whatever you can to lift someone up rather than bring them down. From loved ones to strangers, treat each person with love and respect; let your essence be love. Be the ray of sunshine in someone else’s day. Maya Angelou said, “Be the rainbow in another person’s life.”
I leave you with my MOST profound teaching; it’s at the foundation of them all-
Never underestimate the power of silence and stillness. Mindfulness, awareness, purposefulness, positivity, all stem from being still. We gain all of our power, self-confidence and strength in life by “sitting with ourselves.” Find a quiet space every morning and sit with yourself in silence, focusing on your breath, tapping into that place within of love and strength. Give it a try and see what happens. Remember if you think you just can’t sit still, here’s a teaching- “In the sitting still we learn to be still.”
My wish for you is that these teachings are as meaningful and helpful for you as they are for me. Let me know what has inspired you to live your most beautiful, magnificent life?
As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to be happy. At first, I thought accomplishments and material things would make me happy, but I discovered after many years of searching that happiness is an inside job. To me, being happy is the knowingness that within me is everything I need in life to thrive. Of course I didn’t just turn on a switch one day and discover this truth. Like everything in life, there were lessons to be learned. Being an avid student, I took these lessons to heart and found that they were so powerful in my life that I’ve made it my mission to share what I’ve learned with other happiness-seekers. I keep these seven lessons in mind on a daily basis so I can always remember that happiness comes from within.
- Be truthful with yourself. When I began to meditate regularly, all the thoughts spinning around in my head slowed down just enough for me to do some house cleaning: I took an honest look at my “inventory” and sorted through the old feelings and self-defeating beliefs I hadn’t wanted to look at. Only by getting honest with myself was I able to listen to my heart and discover my personal truth.
- Live your life with purpose and meaning. Without directions, it is easy to get lost, especially if we don’t even know where we’re headed. Having a clear purpose—a destination, so to speak—gives meaning to our everyday lives. For example, over the years, I have discovered that my purpose in life is to spread peace. When I act toward that goal, I take joy in knowing that there is meaning behind what I do.
- Be of service to others. For me, there is no greater joy in life than giving others a helping hand. I first learned this lesson as a new mother, and then later as my daughter grew, I looked for other ways to share my time and resources. I found many opportunities to support causes and organizations in the quest to improve the lives of others. With a little research, you too can find a cause that speaks to you and offers you a sense of fulfillment.
- Explore your personal definition of spirituality. This may be one of the most important personal journeys any of us can take. Only after many years of exploration did I come to understand what spirituality means to me. To me, spirituality is a connection to oneself and a higher power. This relationship with my “beloved” brings me a deep sense of inner peace—a knowingness that everything is okay even when the outside world seems to be spinning out of control.
- Inspire peace within yourself and others. Dwelling on the things that drive me crazy isn’t going to get me anywhere but crazy. Shouting from the rooftops about everything that is going wrong is only going to spread the craziness. Instead, I find that when I focus on what is going right and tap into my inner peace, things have a way of righting themselves, and if not, I can calmly call myself and others to action.
- Learn from great teachers. This is one of the most powerful lessons I’ve ever learned. Reading the works of the great masters, saints, and mystics of the past, as well as many of today’s motivational authors, has been my greatest inspiration for living a life of purpose and meaning. Those who have walked the path before us or alongside us have gems of wisdom to share that we can carry with us as reminders in our everyday lives.
- Share what you’ve learned. Whenever I come across something that makes me breathe a sigh of joy, the first thing I want to do is share it with others. This is what I love most about The Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life Facebook posts and daily emails. So many of our Facebook friends comment that a particular quote brightened their day—and knowing this truly makes me happy.
These seven life lessons aren’t steps that you need to take in any particular order. Doing any one of them can bring you closer to your inner source of happiness. In my life, I try to keep all seven in mind as I move throughout my day to stay connected to my inner joy. My true desire is that you also find this incredible place inside yourself and that you go back out into the world and spread your joy far and wide. You can begin right now by sharing with me the lessons you’ve learned to be happy in the comments below!