Practicing Patience

“To practice patience means to acclimate to the idea that time is on our side rather than working against us”

Michael Woronko
Oct 26, 2018 · 3 min read

To some, patience may not seem an important quality to hold — at least not as important as, say, altruism or determination. We consider it a good virtue and often tell others — notably children or patrons — to be patient or that we respect their patience. But how often do we stop to actually ponder this quality, this way of being? For patience is just that — a way to be. And, interestingly enough, it can be an extremely rewarding way to be.

Patience and composure go hand in hand. As Charles Bukowski’s book title reads “What matters most is how well you walk through the fire”. Demonstrating no patience, we act on impulse or on pure emotional instinct in a situation that demands intensive decision making — say, in a crisis or during a conflict. Exhibiting patience, we remain poised and do not act solely in a reactionary manner that is tied to compulsion, rather, we can employ logic, assess the situation for the best outcome, establishing control of the situation

It’s been said time and time again, and for good reason. Virtues themselves demand a measure of self-discipline or doing something not because it is easy and beneficial to us but because it is challenging and beneficial to others. Patience exemplifies self-discipline and self-discipline consequently reinforces our will.

To practice patience means to acclimate to the idea that time is on our side rather than working against us. Rushing a decision, responding to a message too soon, giving up on waiting — in these instances, we become susceptible towards letting time get the better of us. To be patient, we maximize the time we have to either mull a decision over, to demonstrate respect for others as we wait and to ultimately affirm that we are not subservient to time.

Expanding on the last point, practicing patience upholds the idea that, oftentimes, the finest things in life simply take time, that rewards must be earned in some way if not simply through waiting. Think about it — graduation is so rewarding because of the long and arduous journey there; the best vegetables in life are those that we’ve harvested ourselves after watching them grow for months; the completion of a piece of art that required hours or days or months of detail, refinement and effort. Setting forth on an ambition and acknowledging that it will take time and effort provides a foundation for the best possible outcome.

There are countless benefits to practicing patience in life: not becoming infuriated by bad news or being irritable throughout the day; making sound decisions based on thorough assessments of fact or circumstance; not empowering negative impulses and urges; realizing long term benefits over short term gains; preferring quality over quantity, etc.

Ultimately, to practice patience is to overpower the voice of temptation which demands a rushed answer, resolution, product or result. To hurry outcomes, when they need not be hurried, is akin to rushing through life the journey of life itself — to always disregard the scenic route, to fail to stop and smell the roses, to neglect living in the moment and instead overly focus on those that have yet come to be.

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In a world where we face innumerable constraints — financial, social, spiritual, sexual, etc. — we risk falling into a trap, a conception that we must be confined to certain parameters.