Patience Exercise

Patience, one of the key components of leadership and well-being, is a quality of internal peace and calm. Regardless of external circumstances or our personal feelings, we can develop patient responses.

A patient response creates space for us and others to adjust to the unexpected, to work through challenges without aggravating them, to regain balance and maintain calm.

Being patient is simply being open to each moment as it unfolds. Practicing patience reminds us that we don’t have to fill our precious moments with activity and over-thinking.

This simple process helps us reground and center ourselves when we begin to feel impatient:


To slow your heart rate, relax your body and calm your emotions.
Although ideally practiced in sequence, the 3 steps can be helpful even when practiced separately, especially once you become familiar with the process and your own responses (emotional and physiological).

If you face chronic impatience, we recommend practicing these steps regularly until you feel generally calmer and less reactive. Then use as needed.

In a pinch, try the Quick Response at the bottom of this page.

1. Notice the body. (30 seconds or as needed)
• Sitting or standing, breathe in and out for three long, slow breath cycles.
• As you breathe, notice the flow of your breath into and out of the body.
• Notice any muscular tension. Focus gently on tense areas. Imagine them softening with each exhale.
• Notice your feet. Press into the floor or ground and feel its solidity and support.
• Continue breathing in and out slowly and rhythmically.

2. Expand your visual perception. (about 20 seconds)
• Relax your breathing as you look at something nearby.
• Continuing to breathe easily, look at something far away.
• Blink once slowly.
• Continuing to focus on the faraway object, soften the muscles around your eyes.
• Notice your peripheral vision expanding.
• Shift your gaze to something nearby.
• Look at something far away again.
• Notice the difference in your visual perception.

3. Feel space around you and your place in it. (45 – 60 seconds)
• Notice your breathing. Feel your body expanding and contracting with each breath.
• Extend your arms forward. Extend them to each side as you inhale. Feel your chest open.
• Return arms to the forward position with each exhale.
• Repeat the breath and arm movements for five cycles.
• Notice the change in your perception of space.

Quick Response
Try this easy-to-remember response, which employs visual cues, when you can’t think clearly. The more you practice the 3 steps above, the easier and more effective this Quick Response will be.
• Notice and silently acknowledge any feeling of irritation.
• Breathe slowly in and out.
• Relax the muscles around your eyes to expand your peripheral vision.
• Smile as you perceive more space around you.
• Pause.
• Notice your irritation dissipating.
• Repeat as needed.