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Next Time You Have to Wait, Remember This


Waiting is the bane of modern living. Whether waiting in line, at the doctor’s office, for a baby to be delivered, for Christmas, for a phone call, for 5pm on Friday, or whatever, waiting drives us mad. But does it have to be that way? Well it depends on your perspective, circumstances, and how you choose to react. The truth is you have the power to transform waiting into a gift.

For many of us in modern society, when faced with waiting, the reaction is automatic and self-destructive. We get tense, irritated, angry, frustated, etc. Can you relate? We start complaining in our head and to others around us. We start thinking that time is being wasted. We focus on the things we could or should be doing instead causing a flood of resentment. The end result is higher blood pressure, headaches, muscle tension, and buildup of toxic chemicals inside our body. And did it change our wait? Nope. Did the waiting cause these problems? No, the negative side effects stem from how we chose to react. The good news is once you become aware, you can stop this destructive pattern.

How to Make Waiting Work for You

1. Change Your Perspective. Make a choice to see waiting as an opportunity, a gift of time, that you can use for some positive result for you or others. Instead of focusing on things you could/should be doing instead, consider how this time can be a gift for you. Consider how you are being relieved of duty for the moment

2. Deep Breathing. When that automatic reaction starts to happen, the first thing to do is to take several deep breaths. This is really good for you because it will release the tension that has been building up in you while you weren’t paying attention. The difference between this and “huffing and puffing” is your intention. With deep breathing your intention is to release tension. With huffing and puffing it is like blowing up a stress balloon inside yourself, holding in and increasing your aggravation. Deep breathing is done with a sense of letting it all out.

3. Work with the Wait Time, Don’t Fight It. Ask yourself “What can I do right now that would make this time good for me or for others?” Here are some examples of what you can do during waiting time.

  • Relax

  • Think

  • Plan (in your head or on paper)

  • Meditate

  • Daydream

  • Create (ideas, art, knitting, etc)

  • Read (book, magazine, online with cellphone)

  • Draw or Doodle

  • Call a friend

Obviously circumstances will dictate which of these things are feasible. Look for ways to modify them to your circumstances, though, instead of ruling them out completely.Â

4. If You Are Uncomfortable or in Pain While Waiting. Seek to alleviate the discomfort if possible. If that’s not feasible, then try distracting yourself with something. If that doesn’t work then seek to find peace amidst the discomfort. Use deep breathing. Don’t actively fret about your pain or discomfort. Attempt, instead, to observe it as if you were an outsider. In other words become immersed in it and assume a zen like state of being in the moment. Everything is temporary. Remind yourself that it won’t last forever. Depending on your level of discomfort this can be quite challenging, and at the same time quite rewarding. You will discover strength you didn’t know you had. In the end, your waiting time may still be uncomfortable, but you won’t be making it worse with building frustration.

Read more about changing your perspective towards events in your life beyond waiting in this article by my blogging friend Edward Mills at Evolving Times. Learn how to stop labeling things as “bad” and find the good in everything. The article is really eye opening and will make a difference in your life starting today. I’m sure once you visit his blog, you’ll probably want to subscribe!

Please Share!

What are your best tips for when you have to wait? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

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17 Responses to Next Time You Have to Wait, Remember This

  1. Tina Su - Think Simple Now December 3, 2007 at 8:20 pm #

    Great post! And an excellent reminder to us all… it’s so easy to get frustrated when waiting in line… I’ve been there. 🙂

    One thing I learned from Dan Millman is asking yourself 3 questions when you are frustrated or nervous… 1) Am I relaxed? 2) Am I Breathing? 3) Am I moving with grace? .. you can’t think about other things to distract yourself when your mind is already occupied with other things. I’ve found this to be a very effective technique to help me relax.

    Thank you sully!


  2. Lawrence Cheok | A Long Long Road December 4, 2007 at 12:43 am #

    Hi Sully,

    One way that I use is to tell myself to focus on the present.

    Too often, we get impatient because our focus is on the destination. However, in doing so, we miss so many details of the precious present.

    The pity is that when you look back, you realize that you have not learn or appreciated much of what has passed. This is especially true of interactions missed with family, friends and loved ones.

    Used those waiting time to your advantage and take maximum use of your present!

  3. Ivan - December 4, 2007 at 12:59 am #

    Thank you for this post! I have *always* something to read with me and my iPod with some audiobooks. Because sometimes the world is so loud and busy that I can’t concentrate to read in my book. But I can always listen to an audiobook.


  4. agentsully December 4, 2007 at 12:49 pm #

    Thanks Tina! And those are great additions. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Self Improvement Ideas December 4, 2007 at 3:24 pm #

    You raise an important and often overlooked point, and i must admit i am guilty of not always waiting patiently myself. Sometimes you do have to wait for things, and they will take how ever long they will take.

    Maybe i dont like waiting for things because i am reminded of waiting forever in lines to go on rides at amusement parks? or maybe reminded of the times my mum took me shopping as a kid, and i had to wait for her to finish which seemed like an eternity, or maybe its just society that has trained people to expect things immediately, and if it means waiting its no good.

    Most people have an i want it now attitude, and so your right, it does cause them to “huff and puff” (including me).

    Thanks for the advice, it really has made me reflect on a few things.


  6. CBR December 4, 2007 at 8:38 pm #

    Great post, people need to slow down and take time to appreciate the world, the people, the day. I’m guilty so thanks for the wakeup

  7. Kevin Eikenberry December 6, 2007 at 5:44 am #

    This is a great post and some excellent coments. I have typically focused on your great question in point three – in essence, what can I do now? (what is the best use of my time now?) And while I am a BIG propoent of reading and listening (music or books) on an iPod is also great, I think we all need to spend more time Thinking, Reflecting, and Planning. These are tasks that too often get shut out in our busy lives, and we can definitely use the waiting down as thinking time to our great advantage.

    thanks for the post!

    Kevin Eikenberry, author of

  8. Shira79 December 9, 2007 at 5:21 pm #

    Excellent post! I’ve CPP’d it here.

  9. Jayson December 10, 2007 at 2:32 pm #

    Great post as usual and good timing (Christmas!!). These tips are very useful and true, there is so much that can be done while waiting. It’s a great opportunity to catch up on the phone calls, emails or messages that get pushed off until the end of the day.

  10. HDTV Reviews December 13, 2007 at 9:21 am #

    Thank God for making me aware of these facts. I often behave very much frustratingly; I would definitely practice doing these and will share this with all my friends.

  11. allie December 13, 2007 at 7:03 pm #

    Really great post. I am notoriously impatient to the point I might go out of my way so as not to wait. I even drive a farther distance to avoid sitting in traffic! Probably takes equal time or more but it beats waiting. Maybe i should adopt your philosophy and take some deep breaths.

  12. wildJune @ Anime Online December 15, 2007 at 9:55 am #

    Excellent post, it reminds me one time when i was queuing up to see a doctor. The frustration and time wasted just to hear the doctor say “take these pills home and take it twice a day”.

  13. Tammy Blanchard December 18, 2007 at 4:11 am #

    Waiting doesn’t especially bother me, but I will email a link to this article to a certain person I know.

  14. Philip December 18, 2007 at 9:41 am #


  15. f December 18, 2007 at 9:43 am #

    i love you!!
    sorry forgive me

    thank u

  16. neil April 12, 2008 at 7:56 am #

    Terrific post.

    I was once impatient, lately very much less so. Both states are a reflection on the general state of my life (I’d go so far as to say ‘lives’) then and now. I do still experience some frustration if my holdup is forcing someone else to wait for me.

    We spend so much time rushing around that we rarely have the opportunity to engage with our surroundings. Having to wait is an opportunity to take a breather. Point 1 – changing your perspective – is absolutely the key. But also there’s the need to practice being self-aware enough to deal with it.

  17. theorie January 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

    ‘If You Are Uncomfortable or in Pain While Waiting’ I always try this at the dentist. It works great untill he jams the drill in!

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