How to Be More Patient

Saint Augustine claimed that patience is the companion of wisdom. Increase your store of both virtues by following this advice from a truck driver, a world traveler, and others who know a thing or two about serenity-threatening situations.

  • Ashley Tate

Chew Your Food Slowly

People who consume food more slowly—and ignore those “I’m hungry” urges—eat less overall than those who devour their meals. Research has found that impatient people are more likely to be overweight, possibly because of their inability to delay gratification at the dinner table. This practice can help you in other areas of life as well: By eating slowly, you can train yourself to be less impulsive and more patient in general.

Charles Courtemanche, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of economics at Georgia State University, in Atlanta, who has studied the relationship between obesity and patience.

Experience Different Cultures

When you travel the world, you find out that many cultures aren’t as punctual and perfectionistic as ours, and encountering those perspectives can mellow you. To work on your patience closer to home, try visiting an area populated by people of a different culture (such as a city’s Chinatown) or take part in a festival held by an immigrant community. I recently visited a Vietnamese farmers’ market in New Orleans. I was annoyed that it was open only between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. and I wanted to know why. The answer? I learned that often in cultures dependent on fishing, much of the work is done before daybreak. It was good to remind myself that simply because people do something differently doesn’t mean that they’re wrong.

Seth Kugel writes the Frugal Traveler column for the New York Times. He lives in New York City and São Paulo, Brazil.

Laugh at Yourself

I’m a newspaper columnist and my husband is a politician, so both of us must be willing to converse with strangers when we’re eating out or shopping for groceries. In the rare moments when people are obnoxious (like the time a woman told me that I needed to get Botox), I can get impatient. But instead of being rude to the person, I formulate an internal joke, usually at my own expense. Knowing that I can laugh with a friend later on about, say, my deep wrinkles calms any irritation.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and the author of …and His Lovely Wife ($16, amazon.com) which chronicles her experience as the wife of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio. She lives in Cleveland.