“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Patience is something that’s not talked about often when it comes to growth and productivity—or even peace of mind. When we think of habits and improvement, we think of getting things done, perseverance, focus, or pursuing passions. I hardly read (or think) about patience.
Lately though patience seems to come up and remind me of how important it is.
But before talking about the benefits of patience, let’s explore what patience is. Is it something we can learn? Can we turn patience into a practice and a habit? Or is it an innate trait that we’re either born with or without?
I tend to think of patience as something we can learn by consciously choosing to be more patient on a continuous basis.
A few thoughts about what patience is (or can be).
To choose to be more patient means:
Meeting delayed gratification with an open mind by appreciating the experience itself, rather than just anticipating the outcome.
Surrendering to the pain and sorrow in times of heartbreak and allowing ourselves to grieve and heal—without mind tricks or coercion to speed up the process.
Welcoming reality with no strings attached—we do what we do and let the outcome arrive at its own pace, not at the pace of rushed expectations.
Willing to be pleasantly surprised when things happen sooner than we thought, and being okay when things take their sweet time.
Suspending assumptions with a gentle pause—and meeting the situation, others, and ourselves with compassion. This prevents us from rushing into action or reaction—with a hasty thought and judgment, a regrettable exchange of words or a violent eruption of emotions.
Forming a healthy and realistic relationship with time by respecting time’s own boundaries and appreciating the pace at which life continues to unfold.
Calming the anxious mind by refocusing its attention on the action of the moment as it relates to the bigger picture and long-term prospects.
Learning to become more patient has tremendous value in our daily lives—especially if we desire to grow and realize more of our potential.
Patience is the foundation of a lot of empowering habits and behaviors that lead to success. The following practices come to mind.
Implementing and sustaining small changes
With patience we can make small changes and have faith that they will add up over time to something amazing. Without patience, we won’t have the discipline and foresight to stick to it.
When we’re patient, we strengthen our resolve to keep going, in spite of unforeseen obstacles, naysayers or other people’s demands and expectations.
Slow and deliberate action
Slowing down and doing something deliberately requires patience. The first impulse is usually one that wants to rush and get things done.
Patience is what slows us down and allows us to do something well, with calm focus.
Doing something once or twice can be achieved with some effort. But doing something over and over for an extended period of time, day after day, month after month, year after year, takes patience—a whole lot of patience.
Patience is what keeps us focused on the action and allows us to repeat it many times over with a long-term perspective. Without it, we get bored, stop, pick up again, stop again, feel discouraged, and eventually give up.
All of the traits mentioned above (small steps, persistence, meaningful action and consistency) eventually lead to mastery.
To master an activity or skill is the ultimate outcome of the pursuit of something we truly desire and enjoy doing. This is where we transcend limitations and realize that human potential is limitless.
With some awareness of our tendencies and behavior, we can choose to be more patient. It’s a choice that’s available to all of us at any given moment.
Patience may not be something sexy that’s worthy of sharing on Facebook or bragging about. It resides quietly—hardly noticed or appreciated—in the background of our being. But its effects can be life changing.
Patience is at the core of everything else that’s worth experiencing (whether we choose to share it or not).
“He that can have patience can have what he will.” ~Benjamin Franklin