So they say, good things come to him who waits. But that’s the problem. I (even though I am a her) don’t want to wait! Patience is a virtue, but I want to have the virtue, as well as what I am waiting for, NOW.
Just what exactly is patience? The Old English word for the concept was longsuffering, which term pretty well sums up what’s involved with patience–having to deal with the frustration of waiting a seemingly LONG time to get what you want.
A current definition of patience might be waiting without complaint. In this day and age, both waiting and lack of complaining are foreign concepts to the average person. Modern man has a fast food mentality; we want instantaneous (or as close as possible thereto) gratification. And the knee jerk reaction to not getting what you wants as fast as you want it is to gripe about it.
To be patient connotes enduring delay, difficulty or annoyance without complaint. Daily life give us ample opportunities to try our hand, and likely to fail, at being patient. Please raise your hand if you never complain about:
- Being left on hold for a long time;
- Being unable to speak with a live person at a customer “service” number;
- Being unable to speak with a live person who speaks English without a heavy accent at a customer “service” number;
- Being stranded in a traffic jam;
- Standing in a long line;
- Standing in a short line where the customer ahead of you is telling his/her life story to the clerk/teller;
- How long it is taking to get a response on a job application;
- How slowly someone responded to your (clearly highly important) text/e-mail/phone message;
- How telemarketers always call during dinner;
- How uncommon common sense is in those around you.
The seven heavenly virtues include patience. The virtue being described as heavenly is apt given that it would take a divine being not to want to gripe about the situations listed above. Perfection being unattainable, perhaps we should merely shoot for being MORE patient rather than just patient period.
But how can we be more patient? It is important to note that impatience involves emotions and feelings–frustration, anger, etc. Patience, on the other hand, involves a mindset. We are more likely to be patient if we recognize and take into account three key points.
First, things take time. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. We set ourselves up for frustration when we expect things to happen on a short timetable. It is possible, but highly unlikely, that you will be hired for the perfect job, achieve a lifelong dream, etc. overnight. As my dad used to remind me, “Good things are worth waiting for.” So expect some time to elapse before you reach your goal.
Second, we need to be flexible. Expect the unexpected. Life rarely plays out in the precise way that we imagine it will. And aren’t we glad? I mean, how boring would it be to have things always unfold as we thought they would? Don’t you enjoy good surprises now and then? Again, we are setting ourselves up for frustration if we box ourselves in by expecting that things must play out exactly as we had in our mind that they should.
Third, we need to be realistic. There are always going to be bumps in the road, and things do not always go smoothly. People will make mistakes, accidents occur, etc. We are living in the real world and stuff happens. If we anticipate that there might be traffic as we travel along the beach highway during the summer, we may not like it, but we won’t be caught off guard. If on on the other hand, we live in la la land and think we’ll just breeze down that highway at record speed, we will be sorely disappointed and quite frustrated. Exhibiting patience would be a pipe dream.
Patience may be a virtue, but it is also something that has to be achieved. It simply doesn’t happen; having the correct mindset is crucial. We are on our way to becoming more patient if we recognize that things take time, if we are flexible about the procedure by which our goal is to be achieved, and if we are realistic about what things might occur in between point A and our destination. Thank you for your patience in reading to the end of this post!
Points To Ponder: About what things am I impatient? What concrete things could I do to increase my patience about these situations?