Self-Transformation Series:
Issue No. 29

The Value of Patience

Table of Contents

I. Why Important

II. What is Patience?

III. The Value of Patience

IV. Developing Patience

I. Why Important

Patience is the quality that brings about inner peace, and together with perseverance, brings about success in whatever endeavor we choose to undertake. Impatience causes irritation, imprudence, wrong decisions, poor relationships, and contributes greatly to personal unhappiness. Patience in its deeper sense is rooted in faith -- faith in our fellow human beings and faith that divine justice will prevail in the long run.

Genius is eternal patience. -- MICHAEL ANGELO

To know how to wait is the great secret of success. -- JOSEPH MARIE DE MAISTRE

Patience is power; with time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes silk. -- CHINESE PROVERB

Patience is the support of weakness; impatience is the ruin of strength. -- CALEB C. COLTON

II. What is Patience?

Patience has many facets. We can see these aspects from its various definitions (Webster's Third International):

  1. Patience is the power or habit of enduring hardship, evil, adversity, or pain with calmness and courage; it is calm self-possession or composure in confronting obstacles or delays.
  2. It is toleration or magnanimity for the faults or affronts of others
  3. It is not being hasty and impulsive

Patience has also been described as "endurance and restraint motivated by love: love for others, love for ourselves and love for God." (Christopher News Notes)

III The Value of Patience

  1. Inner Peace -- True patience means inner calmness and serenity despite obstacles, pain, and adversity. All of us are subject to these downturns in life. Some of us can handle it well, others break down. Patience is the ability to go through these adverse periods with confidence that eventually will turn out well.
  2. A Needed Element of Success -- Many people can do things well were it not for their impatience: to learn something, to undertake a project or achieve a goal. For this, patience becomes perseverance.
  3. Example: You are applying for the approval of a project and you feel that it should be hastened. In your impatience you say or write things that offend people and which delay the project all the more.

  4. More Effective in Dealing with People -- Different people behave and respond in different ways. Patience with those who do not seem to be able to keep pace with you will make you more effective with them.

Examples: in teaching children, training subordinates, negotiating with others, discussing with others, and in general interpersonal relationships.

IV. Developing Patience

The cultivation of patience in us requires the development of certain capacities (with acknowledgements to Christopher News Notes):

1. Understanding -- There is a saying: "To understand is to forgive." Similarly, to understand is to be patient.

Example: When a teacher understands that a child has developed a traumatic phobia of strangers, she will be patient even if it takes months before the child feels comfortable with the new environment. If the teacher is impatient, she may force the child to socialize which may only worsen the problem.

2. Self-control -- Impatience results in irritation and anger. Lack of self-control over oneself will easily result in aggressive behavior, which can often do more damage than it can correct.

3. Kindness and Considerateness -- Kindness almost always means patience. When one has developed the quality of considerateness of other people, there will no tendency to be rash and impulsive in reacting to mistakes or shortcomings of other people.

4. Love -- We tend to be patient with the people we love. The quality of compassion and affection therefore increases our capacity to accept the failings of others.

5. Perspective -- Many people become impatient with petty imperfections. They lose perspective and ruin their mood or their day because of small things, such as traffic jams, or a wrongly spelled word, or delay in check-out counter of a store.

6. Calmness and Sense of Humor -- Patience is a habit that comes with the cultivation of habitual calmness and serenity. This can be developed by being constantly aware of our levels of tension, our breathing, and being able to speak and deal with people in a habitually calm voice and composed manner. Seeing the humorous side of an awkward situation can also help lighten our perception and avoid being irritated.

7. Self-acceptance -- Patience does not merely mean patience with others, but also with oneself. Hence, one must not be disappointed by one's own failings, provided that one has truly done one's best. Perfectionism can become source of impatience.

8. Faith -- Faith in the universal order can give us patience with even the most sorrowful adversities. This needs a deeper understanding about life, death, destiny, the rise and fall of civilization, the ultimate triumph of truth and justice, etc. For this it is necessary to study the ageless wisdom and the writings of the wisest persons of all ages, of whatever culture or religion.

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Copyright 1995. Permission to reprint is granted provided acknowledgment is made to:
Peace Center
Theosophical Society in the Philippines, 1 Iba St., Quezon City, Philippines

"If five percent of the people work for peace, there will be peace."