“Patience means handling delay, difficulty, or discomfort without getting aggravated. Circumstances are what they are, but patience protects you from their impact like a shock absorber.” This great definition comes from the book Just One Thing, by neuropsychologist, Dr. Rick Hanson.
The art of patience becomes a way of life when we gradually realize that we do not always know best how everything should go, how the people in our lives should act, and we begin to accept the reality that things often take longer and cost more than we think they will. All of this attitude shifting gives credence to the etymology of the word from the Latin pati, which means “to suffer.”
In truth, it is sometimes suffering that best teaches us the importance of patience. Trying to bounce back too quickly from an illness or injury gets our attention through pain that healing cannot be forced or rushed.
“Snap out of it” advice given to someone in grief or depression or fighting an addiction only makes matters worse. Staying the course with a friend or loved one as they move through suffering in their own way sometimes seems to take more patience than if we had to do it ourselves. And when we do have to do it ourselves, patience in facing our own weakness and dependence on others has the possibility of developing in us a gratitude for all things that do go well rather than focusing on the things that don’t.
Being patient is keeping on, even before we see any results. Being patient is looking at failures and mistakes and problems as steps in a process. Being patient is learning to focus on other things while we wait.