Patience is the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard for what you believe in” (Marc Chernoff)

We all get irritated or frustrated at times – long queues, traffic that doesn’t seem to move, a lady in the front of the row handing in what seems to be fifty coupons to the check-out teller in the supermarket thus stalling the whole process of purchasing for everyone, having to clean up someone else’s mess, inconsistencies in arrival times of public transport, etc. We get irritated, perhaps, as we are so used to “instant everything”. Z Hereford noted: “Technological advancements and readily available credit have allowed us to obtain, experience and consume practically anything we want – almost immediately. Do we even need to be patient anymore?” When irritated, however, many invariably let others know, either by a steady stream of grumbling, carping and griping accompanied by a face painted with the pain of having to suffer the fools surrounding them, or they “blow up” in red-faced fury, shouting a torrent of invective intended to let everyone within hearing distance know they have “had it.” The great bulk of us are in between. We may not show much agitation on the outside, but inwardly we are churning with varying degrees of stress, wishing that people would “just get on with it” so we can do our thing.

Patience is the ability to tolerate waiting, delay or frustration without becoming agitated or upset. It’s the ability to be able to control your emotions or impulses and proceed calmly when faced with difficulties. It comes from the Latin word pati which means to suffer, to endure or to bear. Patience is not indifference; patience carries the idea of an immensely strong rock withstanding all onslaughts. Patience comes from being energized by a clear vision or purpose for one’s life – an understanding that one is reaching out for more than one has grasped. With the vision comes inspiration – energy and focus to proceed to achieve the vision and allowing nothing deter you from accomplishing it.

There are substantial benefits to exercising patience, namely:

  • More deliberate decisions being made – patience gives you time to reassess the context, using your vision as a backdrop to weigh the pros and cons. Impulsive decision-taking often leads to making mistakes.
  • Less stress and better health – deliberately processing situations as objectively as possible leads to not being overwhelmed. The control of your emotions creates a context where you are in a better situation to deal with difficult situations with ease and poise.
  • Assists in developing understanding and empathy – patient individuals take time to process what they have to endure, so develop understanding of what it takes for others to go through similar circumstances.
  • Gives one insight into the process of growth – realising a vision takes time and energy. All beneficial growth is not instant.

Patience is definitely a valuable character trait to develop. Exercising patience may appear to be too passive, however, it is an active, purposeful and necessary form of self-discipline. Hereford concludes: “Without patience, many of our actions would be counter-productive and ultimately much time and energy would be wasted spinning our wheels. Surely, patience is a time-tested virtue”. It will certainly grow your emotional intelligence and engender the respect of others.

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