When we live over-booked schedules, patience is the first thing to go. We all have more to do in what seems like not enough time. While the reward of our go-getter task list is great, often times the casualty of our over-achiever state is our patience.

Why is patience so important?

Patience is a key ingredient in our joy recipe. Joy can be stimulated by many things, but when we lose our patience, we get irritable, frustrated, grumpy and flat out mean. When you are in this miserable impatient state, you end up missing out on the joy of activities with friends and family. If you’re so grumpy that you lash out, then you end up hurting the people around you—all because you lost your cool.

Plus, if you have a desire to help or positively impact people, you need to learn how to be patient with people from all walks of life, even if it means sometimes adjusting your task list and priorities.

How do you keep your cool?

So let’s be real. When you are standing in line and the person in front of you is taking a really long time and the line is 10 deep, you want to lose your cool (this happens frequently in Florida). Or a family member nags you so much; you will do anything to avoid them. Or that slow driver cuts you off and then drives really slow in front of you (another daily occurrence in Florida). While these seem like minor occurrences, they can have a major impact on our attitude, joy levels and the loved ones around us.

So how do we overcome them? Simple. Put yourself in their shoes. For example, that slow driver might be elderly and not as comfortable driving as you are. Or that nagging family member, might have some personal challenges—like physical or emotional pain—that’s causing them to be irritable with you. Compassion and empathy are great characteristics for increasing your patience threshold.

Let’s take this one step further. How about your spouse? Do you lose your patience when they do something different from how you do it? Or they don’t see everything the way you see it? It’s easy to let your behavioral differences or idiosyncrasies steal the joy in your relationship which leads to hurtful exchanges of words or behaviors.  Remember, you both were raised in different family cultures and environments so you are going to sometimes do things and see things differently.

I will close with this thought. My Mother-in-Law loves to watch Dr. Phil so she had it on when I was cooking dinner the other night. Dr. Phil said something really valuable when it comes to relationships. He said, “Relationships are not 50/50. They are 100/100. Each person has to bring 100% to the relationship”. If you each give 100%, then you will exceed each others’ expectations instead of fall below their expectations. If you are giving 100% to your relationship, then your patience will naturally increase.

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