Is patience really such a virtue?

Patience, from the Latin patientia, a derivative of pati, to suffer or endure.

The trouble with patience:

Patience is our ability and willingness to endure misfortune and adversity.  Patience is certainly a virtue to my mind, conjuring as it does such synonyms as:  humility, submission, endurance, calmness, composure, self-restraint and equanimity.  And yet, some of these definitions may at first hand appear negative.  For example, if a person appears to be humble, are they perceived as allowing others to walk all over them?  Likewise with submissiveness.  However, when we bring to mind some of the other meanings of patience, namely the qualities of endurance, calmness, composure, self-restraint and equanimity, these appear to be wholly positive.  Many of us can confuse the concept of patience in order to get our own way in the end!!  This is simply the little self (the ego) trying to micro-manage every aspect of our life and that of others around us.

“I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.”

– Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister (1979 – 1990)

 

The struggle is half the battle:

The busier we are with daily life, the less even-minded I feel.  My calmness disappears in a fog of ego-bound restlessness, frustration and impatience.  I guess many of us have this struggle at various times in our lives.  But is it self-imposed?  I think I’ve figured out why this is.  It’s all to do with our relationship with the big T: Time.

Time’s up!:

Time is a manufactured state that we humans imprison ourselves in and one against which we struggle impatiently throughout our lives.  There is a better way.  Look to the animal kingdom, to our pets.  Are they stressed about time?  Are they rushing to be somewhere at an allocated time and worried about others’ reactions if they happen to arrive late?  No, of course not!  Let’s stop putting ourselves under this time pressure.  Not so easy in the workplace, I grant you, but a few moments stepping back from the frenzy of time-restraints can reset our inner balance, enabling us to work thereafter with increased patience, calmness and equanimity (not riding the storm of emotions high and low).

How to nurture patience in your life:

So how can we develop and nurture patience, and all its synonymous qualities outlined above, in our daily lives?  Below are 3 examples:

  1. You’re late for work.
    Instead of flapping and rushing, pause, close your eyes and take as many calm breaths as you need. Then think through the situation logically. How might you create a win-win situation for you and your employer? For example, phone them to explain and offer to work later to make up the time.
  2. You give a task to someone to do and they have not done it by the desired time.
    Do not allow yourself to become angry. If you find yourself thinking disparaging or angry thoughts towards the person, do not give these more power by enunciating them. Instead say nothing and walk away for a few minutes to collect yourself. Keep trying to slow down the breath as this will allow you to think more clearly. Why was the desired time so important to you? Can the task be delayed? What are the reasons for the task not being done? Did you properly supervise the person and check in on their progress? How can you proceed? and so on. Any decision you take, or words you say, must not derive from chaotically-veering emotions but should be wisdom-guided.
  3. You are finding a painful situation (physical or emotional) intolerable.
    Remember that life is God’s play (lila) and we are simply the actors in it. Depending on our individual karma accrued from past lives and our current incarnation, we are presented with situations to challenge our bad habits and our attachment to this world of sensory pleasure. God wants to see if we will renounce all the wonders that He has provided for us and find pleasure in inner communion with Him. Can we trust in Him that everything will be alright? Can we find the humility to understand that we don’t control our lives, He does? Can we submit to this higher power in the wisdom that often the things that are good for us can sometimes initially seem painful?

Have a wonderful week, and remember to be patient!! Anita.

4 Comments

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