One of the main tools for a more peaceful life is patience. Patience is a virtue – we’ve all heard that phrase. What exactly does it mean, though? The definition of patience, according to vocabulary.com says “Patience is a person’s ability to wait something out or endure something tedious, without getting riled up. It takes a lot of patience to wait for your braces to come off, to deal with a toddler’s temper tantrum, or to build a house out of toothpicks.”
So how is that a virtue? No one is one hundred percent where that statement originated. However, it is assumed to have been written by Cato the Elder in the third or fourth century A.D. He wrote The Distichs of Cato as a collection of wisdom and guidance, and there is a line in that reads, “Of human virtues, patience is most great.”
In modern day terms, patience is the ability to wait – to tolerate delay without frustration. Those with patience are able to remain calm and avoid impulsive action when faced with challenges. Let’s face it, being impatient doesn’t really help anything. The line at the store is impervious to your thoughts and emotions. If you’re stuck, there’s nothing to be gained by getting angry, so you may as well enjoy yourself.
Consider that patience is beneficial to your health, happiness, relationships, and goals. Here are some important benefits to having patience:
It’s easier to stay positive when you’re patient. Having patience reduces stress and anxiety. Challenging situations are more manageable when the situation can be approached with patience. And, as we all know – like attracts like, so in this case, when you are patient, it makes it easier for others to be patient as well.
If stress levels are lower when we are patient, then it leads us to the next benefit that patient people are healthier. The stress that impatient people feel is hard on the mind and body. Those that are able to better manage their stress suffer from fewer stress related medical issues. Heart conditions, ulcers, and many other health conditions have been proven to be more difficult to control when stress levels are high.
Patience makes it easier to wait so you can accomplish your goals. Big goals require time. Time requires patience. Consider if and how your impatience has short-circuited your success in the past. What if you had waited just a little longer, and not given up?
We are powerful, but let’s face it – some things are outside our control and patience smooths the journey. Overcoming an illness or injury can’t be changed or sped up by impatience. A pregnancy requires a certain amount of time. Getting over a personal loss or tragedy takes time. Losing several pounds can’t happen overnight. Some things just take time.
When you can wait on answers, take the time to learn what you need, and trust yourself and your timing, you’ll make better decisions. Impatient people don’t take the necessary time to make wise decisions. Impatient people are stressed, and stressed people tend to be impulsive. Patience provides the time and space to contemplate the situation and make a wise decision.
These are just a few of the benefits of patience – the list could go on and on. But what if patience isn’t something you come by naturally (does anyone)? What can you do to help develop patience?
Start with baby steps. Begin by setting a short term goal to practice patience. For example, attempt to spend the next hour being the most patient person you’ve ever been before. Avoid letting anything bother you during this period of time. Extend the time little by little as you’re able until it becomes a habit.
Learn to wait. Pause before everything you say and do. Do you want to get off the couch and raid the refrigerator? Make yourself wait fifteen minutes. Are you ready to interrupt a conversation to make yourself heard? Wait until the conversation has concluded before speaking. Slow down and practice patience at every opportunity. The average day will provide you plenty of practice!
Pay close attention to determine when you’re least patient. When do you find yourself unable to control yourself as well as you’d like? Focus your attention on these trouble spots. Aim for slow, steady progress. Give yourself grace. Avoid expecting perfection or making too many demands on yourself. Slow and steady wins the race.
Finally, notice your thoughts when you’re impatient. What do you think about when you’re feeling impatient? Notice your thoughts and change them. You are the only one who can choose your thoughts, so choose to think about something that Ames you feel peaceful encourages you to be patient.
Patience is a character trait worthy of cultivation. Many confuse patience with weakness or passivity. But patience is an intelligent reaction to a situation that’s outside the realm of control. Impatience can be unhealthy, create additional challenges, and make you miserable in the process. When you are on the path to a more peaceful life, what will you choose?
Find your purpose – find your joy!
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Did you find a few more ideas of your own? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments, and as always please reach out with your thoughts.
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