Why Being Patient Doesn't Make You Happy


I am impatient. I, like most people, want what I want, when I want it. Right now.

I don’t stamp my feet or throw tantrums, although I would like to some days. Or yell at some poor sales clerk or make snarky remarks, even though that would probably feel good sometimes.

But I do feel annoyed, agitated, irritable and antsy when I don’t get what I want, RIGHT NOW!

And what I want right now is for my coaching practice to take off! To take flight and take me with it. To be the best darn coaching practice out there, anywhere.

But, as anyone will tell you, it takes time to build any business. Be patient.

BE PATIENT!!! I don’t want to be patient. I am TIRED of being patient….I am not HAPPY being patient.

Okay, rant over.

As with most uncomfortable feelings, there is a lesson to be learned. So, rant aside, what am I learning about being patient? And how does this relate to my happiness?

For one, the definition of patience has the resounding call of ‘suck it up’, ‘deal with it’, and ‘get over it.’

See for yourself. Here’s Webster’s version:

pa·tience noun

  1. the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.
  2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to have patience with a slow learner.
  3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience.

So inherently being patient means putting up with sh*t. It is just painful. It makes one UNHAPPY.


Given my recent learnings at the World Happiness Summit, I am motivated to think about this in another way. Perhaps, maybe there is some other, more positive way to look at this? One based in happiness research?

The common thread in the definition of patience is dealing with something that you didn’t expect. If you are provoked, or annoyed, suffer a misfortune or pain, it is likely that you did not think or expect that situation to arise.


Dealing with the unexpected…what do happiness studies offer to help deal with the unexpected?


We judge ourselves, each other and situations against myriad conscious and unconscious beliefs. These beliefs are formed early in life and shaped by all of our life’s experiences and learnings. These beliefs form a role model or benchmark in our minds to measure life against.

If life measures up, we get what we expected and don’t have to be patient. And we are happy.

If life doesn’t measure up, we don’t get what we expected and now we have to be patient. And likely be unhappy.

Fundamentally, how we JUDGE an event, person, thing or situation will dictate if our expectation is met or not… and whether we have to be patient or not….and if we are HAPPY or not.

Think of it like this, we cause our own unhappiness by:


[ Wanting | Believing | Wishing | Hoping | Expecting ]

[ Someone | Something | Ourselves | A Situation ]


And in this wanting it to be different than it is, our expectations aren’t met and so now we also have to be patient! I am exhausted just thinking about it all.

This is what we do to ourselves. We make ourselves unhappy by not accepting what ‘is’ in the moment.

So what is the point of all of this?

Impatience is a trigger to notice. It is telling you that you expected something to be different than what it is. Take a moment to pause and reflect:

  • What is it that you expected?
  • Why is this important to you?
  • What can you do to accept whatever ‘is’ right now?

Tune into your impatience rather than just deal with it and you might just learn to be happier.