How to become a more patient person in just 5 months

Evgenya was observing in Chile for a couple weeks, and I had the kids.

One night Reuben woke up crying. I tried the usual stuff and nothing worked; he was alternating between crying and screaming (we later realized he was having night terrors), and after a couple hours I lost it and yelled at him. In the morning he woke up early, and I was so tired and frustrated I punched a door frame.

Dammit.

I didn’t particularly like myself at that moment. This wasn’t the father I wanted to be and I decided to become a more patient person.

A few months later I ran across a technique that many people had used successfully to stop complaining. Presumably, the less you complain and the more you focus on the things going right in your life, the happier you are.

Ok, I’ll buy that.

I wondered if the idea would work for patience. It seemed like it would work for anything you wanted to stop doing.

The concept was simple; you wear a wristband and switch it to the other wrist when you slip up. That’s it. No beating yourself up, no drama. It’s not a punishment, it’s an attention mechanism — you’re making yourself AWARE of your behavior, and surprise surprise, your brain can take it from there.

I still had a bunch of rubber wristbands I had made for a conference, so getting started was easy enough.

At first I found myself switching wrists a lot, sometimes multiple times in one day. Slowly it stretched out for longer periods of time and after 5 months I hit my goal; 21 days straight. (In theory that’s when you’ve got your new behavior reasonably locked-in.)

Results:

I hoped to get better at not losing my cool (which happened) but what I didn’t expect was that I’d simply become a more patient person. My nature changed. I’m calmer inside. Same external stimulus, different internal reaction.

I’m thinking about what I want to do next with the wristband. I like the idea of going through life, slowly mastering various aspects of my personality. There’s no shortage of “opportunity” either. I would love to someone who never judges others, never complains, never doubts himself, doesn’t make unwarranted assumptions, and isn’t afraid.

Let’s roll.

Picture 503

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21 Responses to “How to become a more patient person in just 5 months”

  1. Adrian Says:

    Very interesting, sir. Very interesting indeed. I did that with trial and error way back in the day with jealousy (realize, acknowledge, focus, choose more constructive path, convince myself to take it… try to take it…). A simple cue sounds like it would make the process easier. Create a habit to break a habit. I may try that with “the energy wasted getting annoyed at noise from neighbouring apartments or the street below.”

    Thanks.

  2. Aaron Says:

    Hey Adrian, yeah the simple cue and no beating myself up made this easy (code for it might actually happen). Re street noise that’s a bummer. Hmmm. Is there such a thing as noise canceling sound for an entire room? Might be interesting…

  3. Sarah Says:

    Aaron – I love this idea. I am totally going to try it. Feel free to check in with me the next time you see me and see how it’s going. Thank you!

    Sarah

  4. Aaron Says:

    @Sarah – glad you like the idea. Not only will I check in next time I see you, I’ll hook you up with a wristband if ya want one. :)

  5. Sarah Gershman Says:

    No need, Aaron! I always wear a hairband around my wrist. I love this tip – and am using it diligently (so far.)

  6. Jona Says:

    Good advice Aaron. I need to become a more patient person also. My neighbors are very intense and I like the idea of a ‘reminder’ of my actions or stress levels.

  7. Aaron Says:

    @Sarah – how is it going? You still sticking with it?

    @Jona intense as in loud? Maybe try earplugs along with a wristband? :) If you want a wristband btw let me know.

  8. Sarah Gershman Says:

    I am still doing it – though not as consistently as the first few days. It’s hard to distinguish between feeling impatient and acting on the feeling. sometimes, I’ll talk to my kids through partially gritted teeth – not actually losing my patience, but not being patient either…

  9. Tracey Says:

    I love this idea!!! I’m a teacher and I find that I’m getting more and more impatient. I like the fact that it’s so easy but does require some attention. Thanks!!!!

    Off to get a wristband…
    : )
    Tracey

  10. Danielle Says:

    Hey Aaron, nice tip I’ll be sure to try this out. I’ll do anything to be a calmer and nicer person. I decided the last straw for me was the other night, I got in a huge fight with one of my friends and some guy which came to beating each other up, I get violent when I’m mad and I need to just forget and drop things. I find myself pissed at myself for the things I do wrong. I really need to fix this.

  11. Jon Says:

    I suppose if it works for you it is good. However, if you are aware enough of your behavior to move the wrist band, you are aware enough to control yourself at that point without the wrist band. Consider a time in the past when you have been angry, the phone rings, you go and pick it up in full control of your emotions as if you were not angry 3 seconds ago! It’s done by choice…….either you control yourself or your emotions control you. Emotions are very poor at thinking, emotional reactions cause all kinds of issues, this is why we have brains. Think with your brain and you will always choose far more wisely, and you will be in control.

  12. Shelly Artus Says:

    interesting!

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    […] their own, without us having to do anything else. A great way to achieve this awareness comes from Aaron, who used it to make himself a more patient person: he suggests wearing a bracelet or wristband, and whenever you catch yourself in the thought or […]

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