A stage where 24 hours in a day is not enough: The fine art of coping with impatience | Sunday Observer

A stage where 24 hours in a day is not enough: The fine art of coping with impatience

“I was at the department store with a couple of sandwiches and a pint of milk, with barely time to pick up my daughter from school, but I had picked the wrong queue”

“The clerk in my line had abandoned her position to talk with her manager, and I watched as a man got in the other queue, moved steadily forward, checked out, and left with his purchases, while I stood still. I was growing impatient.

I considered switching queues, but the other one had grown longer than when I had arrived. So,I walked to the front of my queue, plopped down my sandwiches and milk and walked out of the store. I got in my car and drove to another grocery store two kilometres down the road and bought lunch there.”


This was a friend’s recent experience. He later understood his decision was irrational. It certainly took more time to drive to the second store and get lunch than it would have taken to get through the queue at the first store. Because of his impatience, he was 15 minutes late picking up his daughter.

Why are we constantly getting impatient? It is because we are doing a lot more than our parents did at our age. We work hard, sleep less, get stuck in traffic more often.

We are constantly running, and putting our body through an enormous amount of stress on a daily basis. We are rapidly reaching a stage where 24 hours in a day won’t be enough - and this can be considered the primary reason behind our impatience and the anger that follows.

Things have just exploded in the last couple of decades. We weren’t complaining during the days of GPRS and dial-up modems.

We weren’t losing our minds before mobile phones. We were just thrilled that we had something awesome to fool around with.

That novelty of just owning a device or using a service has diminished along with our patience.

Work-life balance

Technology might be helping us do things smarter and more efficiently, but we are constantly pushing ourselves, or being pushed to do more. In a bid to achieve more, we are overworked, exhausted and alienating ourselves from the world.

Right from school days we are forced to study hard to keep up with the unrealistic standards set by universities.


Then it’s a race to land the perfect jobs and that’s the beginning. Punching in our ID cards day in and day out has left us unappreciated, uninspired and bored.

All these do not warrant for impatience or malice, of course not. But, what is to stop us from just tipping over? We do need a reboot button for our mind, sooner rather than later.

Out of my personal experience, let me give you a 5-step process to help become self-aware of your own reactions and responses to events in your life.

Recognize immediately the moment you are getting agitated or impatient. For this, you must become more mindful of your thoughts and reactions to what’s going on around you. Becoming mindful is a habit-of-mind that you can easily develop with practice.

Step 2:

Having recognized your impatient reactions, settle down, calming your body and mind. For instance, take a deep breath and quietly tell yourself, “Relax now… Relax now… Relax now…”. The key is to settle your mind and body so that you can think clearly about the situation at hand.

Step 3:

Identify what exactly triggered your tension, frustration or impatience in the first place. It will help you to better deal with the situation in an appropriate manner. Ask yourself: What specifically is causing me to feel this way?

Step 4:

Dig a little deeper into the impatient feelings. Your goal should be to move from a feeling of impatience to a more optimal feeling that can help you make the most of the situation.

Ask yourself: Does my impatience help or hinder me in this situation? Is this a major inconvenience or am I blowing things out of proportion? How else could I view this situation?

Step 5:

Now it’s time to make one of three decisions moving forward:

Act to resolve your feelings about the situation

Wait-it-out until the issue has been resolved

Observe the situation patiently but proactively

If you choose No 1, you must understand there are always consequences to your actions.

However, if you feel you have little choice in the matter, then take the necessary action to deal with things appropriately. (But remember - you always have a choice with how you act.

You can approach things in a calm and relaxed manner that doesn’t frazzle any feathers.) If you choose No 2, it would be an ideal opportunity to practice the art of patience despite the agitation you feel within.

Just accept things and commit yourself to the fact that you will not get riled up about the situation or person.

If you choose No 3, you become an active observer of the events. You are emotionally disconnected from the situation, to gather enough space for self-reflection.

In this space, you reflect on how things are, how things could be, and all possible interpretations.

Don’t be surprised. You are now a transformed person.