Patience is not simply the ability to wait, it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.”
~ Joyce Meyer ~
In the late 1960s, psychologist Walter Mischel conducted a series of experiments with preschoolers at a Stanford University nursery school. These experiments are more popularly known as “The Marshmallow Test,” and it involved four and five year olds who were given a tricky choice.
These kids were given the opportunity to eat one marshmallow immediately. However, if they waited until the researchers came back into room (up to 20 minutes later), then they would get two marshmallows. The reactions and decisions of these kids varied:
- Some kids just ate the marshmallows;
- Others just looked around;
- A few kids squirmed, at first, but eventually gave in and ate a marshmallow;
- And, some kids decided to wait!
These kids received their well deserved double marshmallows’ when the researchers came back into the room. Then things grew more interesting. Thirty years later, Mischel and his team followed up with the Bing preschoolers and found that children who had waited for the second marshmallow generally fared better in life. For example, studies showed that a child’s ability to delay eating the first marshmallow was a predictor for higher SAT scores and also a lower Body Mass Index (BMI). predicted higher SAT scores and a lower body mass index (BMI). The overall perception:
Those that could delay gratification did better in all areas than those that did not!.
Knowing that our ability to be patient as a child has an impact on our future success as an adult is important. Parents and Educators should embrace teaching children to be patient, so that they can grow into patient adults.
And the best way to teach anything is to walk the talk. Slow down. Smell the roses. Be not so quick to anger. Think before we react.
Frustration will ALWAYS happen. We can never predict that life will go exactly as we plan, it nearly never does. Learning patience helps with this, because calmness is a choice. Every day there are good reasons to get irritated, annoyed, or frustrated. Computers often go down. Mobile phones sometimes break. People get sick and some die. Traffic can be heavy—and always when we’re running late. Lines at the post office, supermarket, phone shops, and in doctors’ rooms are way too long, and slow. And regardless of what class you travel, planes sometimes get delayed. The point is: no one is immune to frustrating situations. They are a part of life.When we’re not in a line, we may lose something. I’m not just talking materially like when we lose our keys or wallet, but also a loved one, jobs, and even friends. Most things that we want or goals that we set for ourselves don’t just instantly materialise. People don’t always call us back quickly. How do we deal with all this? There is only one way—patience! Patience will help us be happier and it helps us to learn tolerance, as well.
Our goal: WE need to learn to transform out frustration with PATIENCE!
Deepak Chopra gives a brilliant acronym formula for what he does so that he does not REACT quickly. This is a formula you can use over and over again, as it will help you to override that instinctive reaction you may have that leads to losing your temper. It uses the acronym, stop, S.T.O.P.
S: Stands for STOP. Just stop, hold on, and wait a minute.
T: Stands for TAKE. Take three deep breaths and then SMILE.
O: Stands for OBSERVE. Take note of what is happening inside of you. It probably doesn’t feel very good, but you have to observe it to know that.
P: Stands for PROCEED with awareness and kindness.
Strategy to develop patience
Next time you are in a long line or experiencing a delay of any sort, or come across any other encounter that leaves you frustrated, take time to S.T.O.P. Use this time to take yourself out of the craziness of your busy life. Try:
- Smiling at others
- Thinking about how lucky you are to be alive.
- Hum a tune.
- Go with the flow.
- Focus on your breathing
- Use it as opportunity to take time out from your busy day
Afterward, commend yourself on taking steps toward putting patience into your life. Patience is not only a virtue, but it is something acquired through habit.