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June 2011
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August 2011

how to be patient: 5 tips for staying calm now

Patience is a very important characteristics when it comes to living a positive life, but it isn't always easy to come by. For some people, patience comes naturally, and for others it requires quite a bit of work. For whatever reason, I struggle a lot with being patient. I am constantly in a rush, trying to get to the next place in my life, though I know I should slow down and live in the present moment. Here are some tips I’ve been giving myself lately to help me stay present and be more patient.

5 Tips for Being Patient

  1. Take deep breaths. It might seem like a very small step, but it’s a step in the right direction. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel tense and impatient, a few deep breaths will help you focus on the present and may help to push your irritation aside.

  2. Be always open to learning. Almost every person and situation in life has something to teach you. If you’re being impatient and rushing (as I so often do!), there’s a good chance you might miss out on something worth learning. Focusing on the learning experience can help you want to be more patient with others.

  3. Look at the big picture. Whenever you feel impatient, try to think of the big picture. Ask yourself, “What’s really more important right now than being where I am?” It’s tempting to believe that you really must be elsewhere, but everything in life happens for a reason and there’s no reason not to pace yourself.  

  4. Choose the easy path. If you grow more and more impatient with a situation, that doesn’t make the situation go away. It only aggravates you and may even cause problems that can make you even more impatient. Patience, hard as it seems sometimes, is the easy way out.  

  5. Consider others. One of the last things we usually do when we’re impatient is consider how we might be affecting others. If we stop for a moment and do this, we’ll most likely realize that our impatience is not worth upsetting other people. Focus on selflessness, and patience will come more easily.  

Being patient is something I literally struggle with on a daily basis. I tend to move at a pretty quick pace and always feel like I need to be somewhere else, doing something else. Clearly, this has lead to a lot of issues -- particularly not being present in my own life. I always say I'm going to work on being patient -- and I always fully intend to -- but it's something that I just usually don't have the patience for. With this article, I'm going to really start focusing on being patient and slowing down so that I can really appreciate my life fully. 

What tips do you have for being patient? 
What advice can you offer someone struggling with patience? 

best friends forever?: lessons on friendship (part I)

Lately I've been dealing with a difficult situation in one of my friendships. A friend of mine knowingly put me in a situation that had the potential to make me (and other people) very uncomfortable and unhappy. When I discovered that the situation was going to present itself -- and that she had been the catalyst behind it -- I was shocked.  When she casually mentioned the impending situation to me the very night before it was to occur, my heartbeat sped up. My palms grew sweaty. Though no mirror was around, I could feel that all the color had drained from my face. My mind raced: How could she do this to me? Why would she do this? How could she think this would be okay? Though my mind was spinning with questions, I took a deep breath to steady myself and refrained from saying anything to her. 

Though the next day arrived and the what-could-have-been-terrible situation didn't actually end up occurring (despite a day filled with worry and anxiety on my part), I couldn't help but wonder how a friend could do this to another friend. I couldn't help but wonder what a friendship really was. Time and time again, I've been faced with situations where friends have shocked me with their actions. Too often I've turned my frustration and sadness inward, accusing myself of picking the wrong people to be friends with. If that's true, I can't help but wonder why I continue to do that. And if it's not true, I can't help but then ponder: what really is a true friendship? 

Though it might seem like something that might be easy, maintaining a good, true friendship can be very difficult, especially when you are in a phase in your life where a lot of things are changing (hello, twenties!). Over the past few years, I've developed a lot as a person and the changes I experienced in myself didn’t always translate very well when it came to friendships. I've tried to take a more positive route when it comes to my life's path and, oddly enough, that hasn't always impacted my friendships in a positive way. I do have some wonderful friends who have stuck with me, through thick and thin, and who have never done (and I imagine never will do) me any wrong. But then I've had some up-and-down friendships that have caused me just as much heartache and pain as any boy-related breakup. 

One of the hardest things I've learned when it comes to friendships is that people change. You will change and your friends will change. Sometimes friends will change together and will have a life-long friendship. Other times, one or both of you might change and you might grow apart. As sad as that sounds, it’s okay. Some friendships aren’t meant to last forever. But what's really hard to deal with is the friendships you think are meant to last forever that don't. Just like a romantic relationship, sometimes it's hard to let go. Sometimes it's hard to know when it's over. Sometimes it's tempting to cling to a bond that just isn't really there (or, at the very least, isn't positive for one or both of you). 

Because I've dealt with a lot of friendships -- both wonderful and heart-wrenching -- and because I'm currently struggling with understanding what the next step is going to be in this particular friendship that has been causing me pain lately, I've given some thought to three very important elements of friendships: (1) how to maintain them so they stay positive, (2) how to know when it's time to call it quits, and (3) how to recover from a lost friendship. 


5 Ways to Maintain a Friendship

Friendships take work. While generally they are a lot of fun and such a great thing to have in your life, like any relationship, you have to work on them. To maintain a friendship, here are some things you should strive to do:

  1. Be a good listener. When a friend confides in you -- or even just tells you a tidbit about her day -- strive to be really present and really hear what she's saying to you. Our own thoughts and commentary can be a big distraction, but instead of always thinking about what advice or comments you can give her, try to really listen to what she's saying to you. 

  2. Don’t judge your friends harshly. Judging people is normal and it's part of human nature, but it's a good thing to try to keep those judgments to a minimum when it comes to friendships. We're all human; we all make mistakes. When a friend does or says something you don't understand, strive to be open-minded and nonjudgmental. 

  3. Find positive common bonds with each other. Friendships are often based on things we have in common with one another. However, the bonds we make with other people are not always positive. Often people bond over judging or putting down other people. If you want to have a lasting, meaningful friendship, focus on positive things that will bring you two closer together. 

  4. Be open to trying new experiences. As people change and grow, their friendships can often become strained because one person seems different. If you want to maintain a friendship for a long period of time, you must be open to new experiences and perspectives. At her core, your friend is the same person so try to be open-minded when she changes -- and encourage her to do the same for you. 

  5. Establish (and don’t break!) trust. Trust is the most important aspect of any relationship. It takes time to establish trust with people and it's essential that you make establishing trust a priority in your friendship. And, most importantly, once that trust has been established, don't break it. Once trust has been broken, it can be very difficult to get it back. 

Doing these things will help to keep your friendship intact. It’s important to remember that friendship is a two-way street. You should be both getting and giving. If you’re doing all of the giving (or all of the getting!), the friendship may not be genuine; it may be time for you to reevaluate that relationship because a true friendship is always about give and take. In Part II, I will discuss how you know when it's time to end a friendship and Part III will cover how to recover from the loss of a friendship. 


Stay tuned for Parts II and III coming soon! 
Please feel free to share your comments about
maintaining friendships
 in the comments section below.  


9 ways to be proactively positive

Every day I think about -- and often write about -- positivity. The more I think about it, the more it starts to seem more like an abstract concept and less like an actual part of life. It's all well and good to think positively, but it's essential to actually act positively as well. Positive thinking often creates positive action, but those actions require effort. Thinking positively doesn't mean you'll always act positively. To life a positive life, one must both think and act positively. 
Living -- and not just thinking -- positively is no easy feat. It's something I struggle with every single day. Though I am happy to write for hours and hours about positivity, when I get up from my desk chair and actually go out into the world and try to live a positive life, it's certainly not easy. As I'm working on living more positively, I thought I'd share with you the nine ways I've thought of to live a proactively positive life. 

9 Ways to Be Proactively Positive

1. Be openly grateful.
I don't know about you, but I often find myself feeling extremely grateful to other people. Whether it's because someone at work who helped me out in a pinch, because my mom who did me an unexpected favor, or because a friend who offered words of advice at just the right time, I often find myself feeling very grateful to others. But do I tell them how thankful I am? Not as often as I should. This is one of the best ways to be proactively positive and it's something I'm determined to do more often. The more I give thanks to others, the more positivity I will be putting out into the world. 

2. Help someone see the positive. How often do you encounter a friend, coworker, or relative who is moaning about how bad a situation is? It's probably more than you realize. While it's important to sympathize with others and recognize the difficulty in whatever they are dealing with, it's also just as important to help others see the positive. Next time someone comes to me with a whine or a complaint, I plan to remind him or her about the good that comes with the bad (and, yes, every situation has a bit of good in it). 

3. Keep an open mind. My mind is a racing one and it's always filling and refilling itself with opinions, thoughts, and ideas. There's certainly nothing wrong with having tons of ideas in my head, but I know sometimes that my brimming mind doesn't leave a lot of room for new ideas. When dealing with other people and new situations, it's essential to have an open mind. Doing so allows you (and me!) to see the positive in almost any situation because your point of view is not clouded by your expectations.  

4. Give compliments freely. Similar to expressing gratitude, giving compliments to others is a wonderful way to put positive vibes out into the world. Almost every day I see someone doing, wearing, or saying something that I like, but very rarely do I actually speak the compliment out loud. I've tried to improve on this, complimenting strangers on a outfit or telling a coworker s/he did a great job on a project, but I still have some work to do when it comes to opening my mouth and letting the compliments come out. (Note: Insincere compliments do not count. Only give compliments you really, truly mean.)

5. Practice patience. Ah, patience... My greatest downfall, my archenemy. I have a lot of trouble with being patient. Much as I strive to live in the present, I'm often racing off to somewhere in my mind, waiting anxiously for what's next. Though I don't practice it like I should, I know deep down that patience (aka, being present) is one of the best ways to live a positive life. Not only does it greatly help you feel more centered, it also greatly impacts those around you. Though this is #5 on this list, in my life I'm making patience priority #1. 

6. Tell a positive story. So often I hear people complaining or telling a you'll-never-believe-what-happened story that's laden with negativity. It's okay that people (yourself included) want to share difficult situations with others. We want feedback, encouragement, support. But what about all of the wonderful things we experience and see every day? Why don't we start telling those stories? This week I'm going to make it a point to tell at least one positive story, with the hope of spreading some positivity to whomever is willing to listen. 

7. Refrain from judging. Another tricky one for me. My name means "God's judge," and I struggle with living up to my name just a little bit too much. Though I don't always judge in a negative way, I do often find myself critiquing others in my mind. This, as you might imagine, is not helpful for me -- or my relationships with these people. I really believe judgement, to some extent, is okay, but for the most part it's much better to ask yourself this question: who am I to judge? 

8. Expect good things. Believe me, I know how much it sucks to be let down. I get why it might seem easier to expect the worse or expect less because, hey, then you won't be let down. But, in my experience I've found that the more I put positive expectations out into the world, the more positive things come my way. What you expect, you often get. If you don't believe me, give it a try. Instead of expecting the worst, try envisioning the best thing that could happen and see if you don't start having a more positive experience. 

9. Engage in positive activities. One of the best things I've done for myself when trying to live a more positive life is to engage in activities that are positive. I used to spend a lot of time doing things that made me ultimately made me unhappy (even if I enjoyed them in the moment), but no that I avoid activities that bring me down I am a much happier person. However, I do know that I could be engaging in even more positive activities. I plan to push myself to make sure I'm doing things that create more positivity in my life. 

Being positive is something I strive to do on a daily basis, but, hard as I try, I often struggle with it. Practicing these suggestions above has really helped me to be more proactive in my positivity. It's one thing for me to claim to have a positive attitude, but it's quite another for me to take action when it comes to living positively. If you find yourself struggling with living positively, give these nine tips a try and see if you don't feel more positive. And, as this is something I still struggle with from time to time, I'd love to hear your words of wisdom as well... 

How to express positivity in your daily life?
What actions do you take to be proactively positive?