The virtues of patience


In this hurry-up society, where we want everything right this minute, patience is becoming the rarest of virtues. “Right this minute” has become the standard and the mantra of western society. We expect to get everything in record time, and if that doesn’t happen, the frustration is palpable. If the Internet acts up, we flip out. If the bus doesn’t arrive on the dot, we hear ourselves swearing. And if you don’t get your dream job when you want it, you feel like a failure.

But why are we so impatient when we’d obviously feel much better if we were more patient? Good question! Well, this rapidly disappearing virtue is one of the few subjects on which the spiritual AND scientific communities agree. Let’s look at why you really should try to be more patient.


When science gives its blessing

Sarah A. Schnitker, a researcher in clinical psychology who did her graduate work at the University of California, Davis, has established a positive correlation between patience and well-being. People who are more patient are better at managing their emotions in stressful situations, experience fewer frustrations, have more positive interpersonal interactions, and are less likely to feel depressed. Best of all, patience can be cultivated. It’s never too late to learn to be more patient.


What exactly does patience mean?

Many people see patience – wrongly – as inaction. It’s really the ability to keep your cool in a problematic situation, whether you’re waiting for something or someone or facing something unexpected or difficult. Perseverance plays a large role. Feeling at peace with the natural flow of things, whether you’re trying to build your company, fight a disease, or  just enjoy a personal achievement, requires a great deal of patience and perseverance.


A few techniques for becoming more patient

You say you’re impatient by nature and that’s just how you are – you can’t do anything about it? That’s what you think! But there’s more than one way to develop your capacity for being more patient.


#1 – Breathing

Obviously, this is pretty basic, but it really does make sense. Nicole Bordeleau, a yoga and meditation master, says that patience is something you need to practice every day. Start with small gestures, Bordeleau urges. First, start your day by taking three deep breaths. Next, any time you’re in waiting mode, take the time to relax your muscles and slow your breathing instead of feeling frustrated.

“Patience teaches us to accept the natural flow of things. It helps us get through the problems that are part of living. It teaches us to savour this very moment and look inward to find joy, contentment, and inner peace.” (Nicole Bordeleau)


#2 – Meditation

Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard sees patience as a sign of courage. It’s also a key factor in achieving our aspirations. One excellent technique is meditation. His book, The Art of Meditation, provides an introduction to this practice and its many proven benefits.

“If  you want to have a harvest, you need to be patient and let the wheat grow to maturity. If you pull up the seedlings, there will be no harvest.” (Matthieu Ricard)


#3 – Gratitude

For author, speaker, and life coach Gabrielle (Gabby) Bernstein, patience plays an essential role in achieving our objectives and making changes in our lives. Everything is a process, one day at a time. The practice of gratitude plays a key role in accepting the process. Every day, take the time to write down three things you’re grateful for. You’ll soon see how far you’ve come along the way!

Becoming more patient helps us live in the present and really enjoy each and every day… even when things don’t go exactly according to plan!


Online sources:

Gabrielle Bernstein. Well and good. Take a one-minute gratitude break with Gabrielle Bernstein. [ONLINE]. (page view, January 3, 2018)

Gabby Bernstein. One Day at a Time. [ONLINE]. (page view, January 3, 2018)

Nicole Bordeleau. Apprendre la patience. [ONLINE, IN FRENCH ONLY]. (page view, January 3, 2018)

Matthieu Ricard. True patience. [ONLINE]. (page view, January 3, 2018)

Matthieu Ricard. The Art of Meditation. [ONLINE].–2 (page view, January 3, 2018)

Let Go Anxiety, Let Things Happen. [ONLINE] (page view, January 11, 2018)

Patience Is a Skill. [ONLINE] (page view, January 11, 2018)

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