How to go from being impatient to having patience in a world of instant gratification through three simple tips. Patience is indeed a virtue and is severely undervalued, however it’s one of the strongest traits one can have when they grow to be better.
Spend a day in an average western world individual and one thing you’ll notice is that we are always moving. We always have some place to go, whether that’s a cafe, or work, or a store.
But one other thing you might notice is that people are guilty of something else: that they are on a timer. One of the most common excuses for people is that they don’t have time. And even when they do, people are expecting immediate results.
We are incredibly impatient to the point that we wanted what we asked for today, yesterday.
Why Are We Impatient?
The first thing to ask first is why is this a problem? Well it’s a problem because we undervalue a lot of things in life. Not to mention that the strategies I will share will take time.
People who are impatient are at massive disadvantages for various reasons, but the biggest one of them all is they’re prone to instant gratification. That means getting what you want right now with very little thought.
Take for example cars. Most people in western society own a vehicle.
A lot of that follows instant gratification, or a certain expectation of someone.
When you get a decent paying job, you often feel that urge to go and buy a car. It’ll be nice and convenient. Especially now that you can afford it.
However this is dangerous thinking because the future is unpredictable. In the end you may fall behind in your payments and that’s dangerous.
Mind you only a small percentage of Americans, 6 million (5.6%), are behind on car payments, still you don’t want to be in that situation.
I’m also not saying never buy a car or that people or beware of the future. Again you have no way of knowing.
That being said, 107 million (or even 6 million for that matter) isn’t a small number either. I wouldn’t be surprised if a good portion of them got a car because they could.
In other words, purchasing a car may not be necessary for them. Especially when you consider other modes of transportation. A lot of those can even be free or at most relatively inexpensive compared to monthly car payments and repairs.
The Problem With Impatience
But I think one of the major things people consider is the amount of time it frees up when you have a car. Obviously it’s a lot faster than walking, biking, or taking a bus in most cases.
So it’s ingrained in our head that we need a car. For convenience, but also for status. People who are successful have these large ticket items. We associate those who drive Lexus or Ferrari’s as the rich and successful. Soon as they notice you don’t have a car -or an older model- you’re seen in a negative light.
I believe those are the main reasons why people are so impatient but also practice instant gratification.
They purchase things because they can.
And they also want to look good around other people.
This is a massive problem.
Just because we can purchase almost anything we want doesn’t mean we should. Not to mention in the grand scheme of things no one is really going to care about your car.
I know this because I’ve been without a car for a decade now. Only one person I know of has actually brought this up in a negative way during this time.
It’s not because I’m cheap or I have nothing to prove. I simply see no reason to own a car when a cab is cheaper or I can walk. It’s great exercise.
Anyway this type of behaviour- being impatient- filters into our work as well as our goals.
You see it a lot in network marketing.
The pitch excites people, but once reality starts sinking in and it’s not easy, people flake off.
They’re not willing to bide their time, hustle, and grow properly.
The same goes for goals. Some people expect results quickly and give a small time frame to complete a massive task. If that doesn’t happen, the person is at risk of getting fired (if it was company goals) or never trying that goal again and relapsing into a bad habit.
How Can We Change?
So how can we change these sorts of behaviours? Because they certainly don’t promote growth. In fact a lot of this stuff can hinder us in the future.
So what I’ve done is put together a three steps strategy that can help you gain patience in your life. Furthermore, I believe this can help you in appreciate the finer things in life too.
Take Each Day As They Come (Focus On Now)
To have patience in a world with instant gratification takes time, but the first step is to honestly focus on the present.
Many people struggle with letting go of the past, or they are thinking further ahead in the future.
Even though that can be helpful in certain cases to grow your mindset, it’s not good if you are focused entirely on that.
For many people, they think about the future as many people are inclined to focus on the things they could have. Going back to our car example, some people purchase high end cars on a yearly basis because they dwell on what they don’t have.
In The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. and William D. Danko, Ph.D. talk extensively about individuals who are under accumulators of wealth. Or UAWs.
It’s quite common for UAWs to spend money on the latest models of cars, utterly obsessed with hyper consumption.
This is because they all focus on what they don’t have, always focusing ahead as opposed to what they do have.
For Those Stuck In The Past
But what about those stuck in the past? Yes future thinkers dwell on the future but they can come back just the same as the past dwellers being present.
For those in the past, it’s a matter of being in the mindset that the past doesn’t define you. Yes the past has developed habits and thought patterns that define you right now.
But at the same time we can change those thought patterns right now.
It’s all a matter of being present right now.
I believe one of the biggest things is asking yourself questions that bring you to the present. Some examples of that would be asking what are you grateful for today? What sort of day do you want accomplished today?
Getting you to think in the now is important and I believe it can shift our perspective of the past and the future.
For myself I work in the now so that in the future I can enjoy the benefits of my work. A simple framework is that I have a set number of activities I do today that’ll lead me to a better life tomorrow.
I’m not saying that future or the past is bad. However too much of something is bad.
Furthermore, thinking in the present, the now, gives us a more profound understanding of the world around us. Not to mention that people tend to value things more when they live this way.
Imagine those who buy cars every year if they showed appreciation and maybe even attachment to their older vehicles.
To deal with the past is to ask those questions and deal with the problems you neglected. Start focusing on seeing them as lessons. Lessons that you can use to move forward.
So how does this tie in with being patient?
Well by focusing on what you have now, you can find more appreciation for what you do have. Remember UAWs I mentioned above? Well there are also people who are classified as prodigious accumulators of wealth or PAWs.
PAWs are people who are sensitive with spending money on consumable items as they focus more on utility and function. They don’t buy into emotional things. As one PAW mentioned in to Stanley and Danko:
The “pride of a new car ownership” is not worth $20,000.
Whether PAWs practice this or not I’m unsure at this point, however practicing delayed gratification can help to some degree with developing patience.
Delayed gratification is the process of delaying what you want to buy and actually devoting time to thinking about the purchase. Being patient in life is simply delaying these emotions. However pairing it up with the third step and first step has some level of logic and sense to it.
I’m saying this as a lot of people don’t believe in delayed gratification. That it’s inhumane. As people it’s important to deal with our emotions and when we feel an urge, we should act.
I don’t necessarily believe that as that way of thinking can be dangerous for a few things. For example if you’re working on losing weight and you get cravings, naturally you want to deal with it. But our brain has a tendency to jump to the most unhealthy foods that’ll satisfy them.
In other words you’ll be in a vicious cycle where you will work hard and then binge on unhealthy foods right after or when cravings strike.
You could argue you’d binge more the further you deny it, but again, when we keep these steps in mind there’ll be logic in them.
Delayed gratification for me is simply that, denying yourself something just because it doesn’t make sense.
Going back to our previous example with PAWs and UAWs, I don’t see the reason why UAWs buy vehicles so often. They’ve become impulse buyers more or less who buy based on their emotions.
But with PAWs, they delay purchasing vehicles. Some of it might be due to delayed gratification, but they think of it in a more logical sense. They bide their time and look at the practically of a new vehicle.
They also consider where they are living and what sort of image they bring. It’s the main reason why many millionaires are actually owners of Ford vehicles. Only a small percentage of them are owners of higher end vehicles.
In fact two out three buyers of high end vehicles are UAWs according to Dr. Stanley and Dr. Danko.
My point is that when people practice delayed gratification, they are being mindful of the world around them. They keep their head in the now, but they also wait until they have to buy a car or anything for that matter.
This sort of practice can filter into your daily life, not just with purchasing big ticket items.
It’s at this step where I believe delayed gratification makes a lot more sense to employ in our mindset.
For PAWs, how I see it, they focus simply on functionality of a car. In fact when Stanley and Danko interviewed PAWs and UAWs, UAWs often spent hours thinking about what to buy.
On average UAWs spent up to 60 hours researching and debating which car to get.
PAWs on the other hand spent one hour total.
Yes, PAWs reached a decision faster. But we also need to consider how often do they buy a car.
For the man they interviewed, this particular PAW waited twenty years before buying what would be their second car!
UAWs on the other hand typically bought one every year.
PAWs didn’t go straight for buying the car brand new though either. That particular PAW purchased a three year old Mercedes Benz.
A rather nice car that fit his style. But he also knew the value of three year old Italian cars tend to drop significantly in value at that point.
My point is this particular PAW looked at it logically. He didn’t need to buy a car because his old one worked just fine. It was only until (more than likely) the repairs costed more than the car itself that he was going to purchase a “new car”.
They don’t explain it in the book, however I think PAWs were asking themselves questions prior to purchase to even consider purchasing a new vehicle. It was likely a process that took months or even years.
In other words they have trained themselves to buy things out of necessity as opposed to buying because they can.
This develops patience in your life by allowing yourself to look at the bigger picture and to understand everything that’s going on.
Now It’s Your Turn
These steps can help us to become more patient people when you really think about it. Take some time each day to do these things and you’ll notice a difference.
First be present in your life. Ask yourself questions that make you think about today.
Secondly deny yourself particular things, don’t feed your impulses, instead train your brain to go to the third step before caving to impulses.
The third step is to be mindful, thinking things through logically. Waiting and understanding all the angles or at least enough that it warrants an answer.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon