Essential Skills for the Modern World

Have you got a problem?

As with so many demons, the first step to conquering impatience is to admit that you've got a problem. There's a big difference between getting a bit restless in a traffic jam, and cursing the selfish bugger who has thrown themselves in front of your Tube train on the way to work. If you are guilty of the latter, then it is time to get some perspective.

Stop and think

What will your impatience achieve? If you are stuck in traffic, then, short of driving over the top of the vehicles in front of you, micro-machines style, there is very little you can do about it. In situations like this you have two choices – get angry and let a traffic jam make you both late and stressed, or calm down and accept the delay. Plump for the second option: then you're just late, which is infinitely preferable.

Take a step back

In time, that is. Endless proverbs extol the virtues of patience: "good things come to he who waits", "patience is a virtue" etc, most of which were written in an era where patience was less of an asset, and more of a necessity. Now, instead of having to wait for fruit to come into season, letters to arrive via carrier pigeon, and for wedding banns to be read before hopping into bed, instant gratification is the norm. We may live in an epoch which breeds impatience, but that is no reason to give in to the foot-tapping, watch-checking beast. Take a leaf out of our ancestors' book, and wait.

Slow down

If you want to learn the art of forbearance, there's nothing else for it but to slow down. When rushing around trying to get things done, any minor delay will make you impatient. If it feels like this goes against your nature, do not despair; there is a reason that the Slow movement has attracted so many followers. Shift down a gear or two and you may find it isn't just your patience that improves.