We all strive for patience, but let’s be honest, it’s not always easy to reach. Patience isn’t just a virtue, it’s downright essential to our survival.
Patience Isn’t Just a Virtue, It’s Essential to Our Survival
Patience is a virtue. We’ve all heard that saying, but what does it actually mean? Well, a virtue is something “considered morally good or desirable in a person.” I think we can all agree that patience is pretty desirable. How is it essential to our survival, though? Let’s start by understanding exactly what patience is, then explore how it helps us live better lives.
What is patience, really?
According to the dictionary, it’s “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” Quite an escalation in terms there- delay, trouble, or suffering. Patience isn’t just about not getting upset when your order of Amazon gadgets takes too long to arrive, it’s also about maintaining a sense of calm in the face of real troubles and tragedies, two things that we’re very familiar with right now.
Now, that doesn’t mean that tragedies and troubles don’t affect you. Of course, they do. You’re not inhuman, after all. Being patient doesn’t mean that you have to just “grin and bear it” when delays cause you significant troubles. It doesn’t mean you can’t be sad when you read or hear about tragedies; and it definitely doesn’t mean you can’t be angry when the actions of others lead to more suffering.
In other words, patience isn’t just about just turning your back on troubles and letting the world crumble around you while you repeat your mantra of, “This too shall pass.” Quite the opposite, really. As Judith Orloff M.D. explains, “Patience doesn’t mean passivity or resignation, but power. It’s an emotionally freeing practice of waiting, watching, and knowing when to act.” Let’s break that down.
Patience is waiting, watching, and knowing when to act
I think this is the best definition of what it means to be patient that I’ve ever seen. It’s waiting. It’s watching. Perhaps most importantly, it’s knowing when to act.
When we’re faced with troubles and suffering- be it personally or on a global level– it’s absolutely vital to our survival to know when and how to act. The only way to do that is to choose a potential remedy for the situation, then wait and watch. The more difficult the problem, the longer we need to wait to see if our solution is working.
Let’s consider current events. I think we can all agree that this is the greatest test to our ability to remain patient that we’ve ever had to endure. What do you think would happen, though, if we refused to wait and watch, refused to see if what we’re doing is actually working? We don’t really have to wonder. Plenty of experts tell us what will happen, and it’s not pretty.
Staying patient, on the other hand, can save countless lives. Countless mothers, fathers, grandparents, sons, daughters, aunts & uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends…you get the point. Let that sink in. The very act of remaining patient could save hundreds of thousands of people. Waiting and watching
Of course, what’s happening now isn’t exactly the norm, thankfully. So, let’s talk about how being patient can save make your everyday life better.
Benefits of Being Patient for Our Physical, Mental, and Financial Well-Being
Showing a little restraint and stoicism in the face of challenges can help us live happier & healthier lives. Let’s take a look at a few ways it can help all aspect of our everyday existence.
Patience is good for your heart
A 2003 study performed by the NIH and National Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute found that impatience and hostility increase our long-term risk of developing high blood pressure. The more impatient and hostile you are, the greater your risk. In other words, if you constantly get angry and exasperated when faced with delays or troubles, your heart suffers.
It’s vital to your relationships
From parenthood to marriage to partnerships at work, self-control and calmness is vital to supporting healthy relationships. Constantly snapping at our spouses and kids out of frustration and impatience isn’t just a good way to ruin our relationships, it’s toxic to those around us. Let this sink in: being impatient could actually cause mental harm to your loved ones. Psychologists call it an “eggshell relationship,” because your loved ones constantly feel like they’re walking on eggshells around you.
Patience is good for your future
When you’re patient, you’re better able to make rational and well-thought-out decisions. If you constantly give up on things before they have a chance to take off, you’ll never get ahead in life. Ever. Perseverance and determination are the only way to reach our goals. Interestingly, surrounding yourself with other patient people can help you reach your goals faster, as one study found that impatience and laziness is actually “contagious.”
It’s even good for your finances
Even when you’re not striving for a career goal, being patient can help your finances. A Columbia Business School study discovered a link between impatience and a low credit score. They offered participants a series of choices between small immediate rewards and larger delayed payoffs. Those who chose the smaller immediate rewards tended to have lower FICO scores overall.
Now, we could dispute this study on the grounds that those with low credit ratings tend to be in rougher financial shape and actually need the smaller immediate rewards to survive. Basically, if you can’t pay your rent and someone offers you exactly enough to cover it today or triple the amount in three months, yes, you’re going to take the smaller amount today to keep a roof over your head. However, patience can still pay off if you choose to put some of your proverbial eggs in long-term baskets as well. Does that make sense?
So, you see, patience isn’t just a virtue, it’s absolutely essential to daily life. Through it, we can overcome just about any challenging situation with more flexibility. Bottom line: if you don’t have patience for little difficulties, then you will fail in the big real problems. Right now, we’re faced with one of the biggest problems of our generation. However, if we can remain patient and give the solutions time to work, we’ll see that it’s a problem we can fix.