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How to Train Yourself to Be More Patient

Are you impatient?

In a fast-paced culture of instant gratification, many people are.

But what is it about our society that makes us so rushed?

On "The Early Show," contributor and psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein said, "We go, we want it. We want it now. We want it quickly with our smart phones, with our fast food. We expect to do it quickly and the fact is that other people expect that of us, as well, so we've lost the art of just slowing down and enjoying the moment. So we're rushing all the time."

"Early Show" co-anchor Erica Hill pointed asked if there was a time when people were more patient. Hartstein said, "The word impatience started, according to the dictionary, in like the 13th century. So clearly, we've been impatient for a long time. But I think before this age of excessive connectedness, we slowed down a little more. Although we're still impatient, clearly."

Hartstein said it's important for people to decompressing and disconnect sometimes -- and just wait.

"We've lost the art to wait," she said. "We kind of have gone back to being little kids. We need it, we want it, we have to have it."

Hill remarked, "And it can really have a detrimental effect on so many aspects of your life. Not just you personally, but those around you. What are some of the real side effects of impatience?"

Hartstein responded, "There are real, physical and mental things we have to consider. Physically, it can cause a lot of heart problems. It's stress management. We're lacking that ability and our hearts can suffer. We can have ulcers. People can have anxiety. Depression. Anger management issues. And subsequently, it can also impact our relationships. Who wants to be with somebody who is tapping their toes all the time looking at the watch all the time? Is really chronically irritable and flipping out at the littlest things? That's not going to build much interpersonal support."

If you are in a relationship with someone who is impatient, what can you do?
Hartstein said impatience is likely a sign "of something bigger."

"You want to talk to them about what's really happening there. Why are they not able to just enjoy the connection with you and let the other things go? Because having the connection is a great distraction and can be really helpful."

Hill said, "So are there some steps that you can take if you yourself recognize that you are perhaps more impatient than one should be or someone that you love is? What are some things we can do to stop that?"
Hartstein recommends taking the time to stop and breathe.

"We are speedy when we're feeling impatient, and if you breathe you slow down and that really slows your nervous system down. That can be really helpful."

She added, "If you can take a time-out from the situation and remove yourself, terrific. Sometimes we can't. But maybe you can kind of find a happy place in your brain, take yourself there. You want to ask yourself the question, 'Is it worth it that I'm getting so frustrated?' A new restaurant is going to have slow service. 'Is it worth it that I'm flipping out about this?' I have to stop and take a step back and survey that for myself. And lastly recognize what your own thinking is. 'What is it about the situation that's making me so angry and can I unstick myself from that a little bit and just enjoy it?'"

But what about impatient kids?

Hill remarked, "I mean, when you're dealing with certain ages like a 4-year-old, they don't know how to be patient."

Hartstein agreed, saying, "They haven't learned it yet. You, as the parent, your job is to modulate their level of patience, so you can't equal their patience level or impatience level. You have to take a step back and breathe. ... Absolutely know what's going to make you mad. If you can avoid them, great. Or have something in your pocket to distract you when you have to be faced with standing on that line in the airport. Have your iPod, have a magazine. Do something to distract yourself."