Maybe you tell your kids the same thing now.
Newborn babies aren’t patient. When they’re hungry they scream. Toddlers and small children aren’t very patient either; they throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want right away. We have to teach children how to be patient.
So, is having patience a sign that we are growing up, getting more mature? How “old” would you rate yourself on having the virtue of patience?
Here’s the definition of patience I found on Wikipedia in just .32 seconds:
“Patience is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one's character can take before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast.”
I think it’s getting harder for us to be patient. We live in a 4G culture and expect immediate satisfaction. It’s easy to be like a toddler and get impatient at the drop of a hat if what we want isn’t available right away.
Despite our best technological efforts, life offers us plenty of opportunities to learn patience. We wait in lines at the grocery store, for the train and at red lights. We wait to finish our education, complete a training program, get the job we want, have a baby, or to get over a bad experience. Life is full of both little and large experiences of waiting. We have the choice of reacting with patience or impatience.
I just had the luck of getting on a plane and taking off. That is exactly what planes are supposed to do, but, as we all know, it doesn’t always happen. The weather is lousy today with rain, low clouds and wind. My flight was the only one the departure board at LaGuardia listed as “on time.”
Hoards of impatient people waiting for their flight had to move aside at the gate for the lucky folk, like me, whose flight was called. I didn’t hear anyone extolling the virtue of patience as I walked past them.
It seems much easier to be impatient than to be patient.
What do we get out of being impatient? Well, I’ll speak for myself. I get stressed out, tense, anxious and annoyed with other people or my situation. And, those negative emotions can stick with me like a bad case of lint. I guess Wikipedia put it right with the phrase: “Patience is the level of endurance one's character can take before negativity.”
Patient people are calm. They know how to wait quietly and with trust. Patient people treat each moment of the day as the moment to be fully present in. Patient people show self-control and have resilience. They know how to self soothe and avoid impulsiveness.
The truth is, when we are patient we find it easier to be grateful for all parts of each day, not just the best parts of each day. And, the good news about patience is, no matter how old we are, we can learn to be more patient. It’s a good thing to cultivate.
I guess that’s what my Mom had in mind when she taught me that little phrase, “patience is a virtue.”