Patience is a virtue which can cultivate peace and even compassion
How many of us remember the adage: Patience is a virtue?
A virtue, for those who need a reminder, is defined as “a behavior of high moral standards.” Patience is defined as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset” (Oxford Living Dictionary).
Now I’ll ask a rhetorical question: Who has patience anymore?
We live in a society of instant gratification, which in my opinion, breed’s anger and frustration over any wait at all. While I love the fact I can download any song I want to hear in a nano-second, what’s wrong with delayed gratification and practicing a little patience? When our computer spins “the circle of doom” as one of my co-workers calls the icon that appears on our screen when our computer is ‘thinking’ or hasn’t caught up with our fast strokes, why can’t we just patiently wait for it to stop? It’s usually seconds or a minute max, but we have become so intolerant of any wait time we find even a few extra seconds unbearable. We sometimes curse at it and waste our energy focusing on our wait time instead of taking a breath and relaxing for a moment. Could this be the Universe giving you a break, its way of reminding you to slow down for a second?
Think about this, if you can be patient for a minute or two (pun intended): How many times do you get upset if something isn’t instantly available to you, or if you have to wait for any amount of time for anything? We want what we want and we want it now! We’ve become like Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — a spoiled whining child who has no patience at all. But is that who we really want to be?
Our current forms of instant communication are great, but have we lost our ability to be patient because of them?
If we have to leave a message for someone when we call, do we sometimes get annoyed that they aren’t instantly available to us? Do we then text them and if we don’t get an immediate response, get annoyed at that too? And has texting someone taken over calling them because you have no patience to talk with them? Yes, it’s convenient to text and I, too, use this form of communication; but are we losing our ability to have conversation, let alone meaningful conversations, because we don’t have patience to talk with each other? Are we losing our patience and in the process losing an important virtue?
While I’m writing this I’m sitting waiting for my car to be serviced. Originally I was going to drop off my car because I didn’t want to wait while it was being serviced. Since I knew I wanted to write this article, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to practice what I’m preaching. When I told the service manager I was going to wait instead of dropping it off he looked at me like I was an alien and said, “It may take 2 to 2 ½ hours”. I just smiled back and told him I’d be ok, I had some work I wanted to catch up on anyway. I then shared that I was going to be writing an article on Patience to which he chuckled and replied “who has time for that anymore?”
I think we need to bring back Patience. Let’s not let this virtue cease to exist. And while we’re at it, let’s practice some kindness and diligence too. They cost nothing and they are literally priceless.
If we instantly get everything we want, are we learning or growing at all?
We tell children to have patience, but as adults we have no tolerance for it ourselves. A friend told me recently he likes to have something to look forward to. I agree, I do too, and it’s the perfect thing to help us practice patience. Isn’t looking forward to something in the future fun? We know it’s coming, but we don’t need it immediately right now and that’s ok. Just knowing it’s coming gives us a sense of peace and comfort, and we’re ok with patiently waiting.
Let’s try to embrace it when certain things are out of our control. Instead of letting a little wait time get us anxious and annoyed, take the time to practice patience. Anxiousness is usually caused by fear, but why does a little wait time make us afraid? Our thoughts immediately go into a slew of dooms day scenarios if we have to wait. Don’t let your mind play this trick on you. Our thoughts are not always true and we need to learn when we practice patience that we are becoming stronger, not weaker.
Waiting may seem like we have no control, but we have control over how we respond to waiting.
And there is power in remaining calm. There’s power in not freaking out over trivial things, which in the big picture are ridiculous anyway. Today’s quote on my Mind Yoga Facebook page was: “A moment of patience in a moment of anger saves you a hundred moments of regret.” Ironically I schedule my posts a week in advance, but this is a good reminder that we rarely regret practicing patience.
Practice with the little things first, like waiting in line at the coffee shop, or your computer being slow, or waiting in traffic. Tell yourself it’s ok that its taking time; this is not a dire emergency. Eventually try it with something bigger in your life that you want an answer to or that you want to happen right away. Maybe waiting for it is exactly what you need right now. Good things often come to those who wait while misery often follows those who are quick to react.
The Guns and Roses song Patience ends with the lyrics, “Just a little patience is all you need.” Let’s all try to enjoy the moment we are in and have patience!
>You may also enjoy reading Metta Meditation: Put a Little Self-Love In Your Heart, by Ruth Jewett