As a kid, patience was not my thing. In fifth grade, when Mr. Gardner asked a question, my hand would often shoot up in enthusiasm. After giving me a few opportunities, he would try to give other students a chance. My hand, though, would remain in the air, and after some time, I'd impatiently start waving it around; at some point, that move got dubbed, "The Viral." Then, there was the time I enrolled in drumming classes. I was excited to jam, but all we were allowed to do in the first class was practice one beat over and over again. I never went back.
I would've done terribly in the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment. In this classic study, researchers gave children a choice between one marshmallow right away, or two later. The results showed that those who could wait 15 minutes ended up scoring 210 points higher on the SAT. Break down the word patience and it actually traces back to the Latin "pati," which means "to suffer, endure." This is the popular interpretation, and one that leaves us in awe of stories like that of the frail, landless Indian farmer who painstakingly moved a mountain. This man chiseled away solo for 22 years, until he finally created a 1 km long, 16-ft-wide, passage connecting his village to vital resources like hospitals. So clearly, delaying gratification or bearing up under pain have their benefits. But a deeper exploration of patience goes beyond risk and reward. Cultivating patience keeps us from being stuck to preconceived notions, and helps us let go of our fixation on outcomes. We come to accept that we don't always or immediately know what is best, and learn to recognize that our reality is in constant flux. Patience elevates our understanding of deeper truths and helps us transcend our limited views. And therein lies its virtue.
Consider this powerful quote by Lao Tzu: "Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles, and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself?" We might think of "waiting" as taking time, but it's actually less about clock time and more about inner space. Of course, there are moments when our immediate gut-level response to a situation is a flash of intuition that can be trusted, moments when it's crystal clear what needs to be done. But at other times, an experience stirs up some of that inner mud, and at those times, patience engages us in the process of becoming still. An unclear mind, one in which right action isn't obvious, isn't a "bad" thing. Wisdom, after all, develops at the edges of our understanding. Our fundamental questions can frustrate us, or create a positive sense of wonder and possibility. The challenge is to develop enough stillness to allow the questions to pose themselves without judgment. This is where patience comes in. Needing answers isn't the point -- patience is in finding value in the questions, in and of themselves. The root word for question, after all, is "quest," and so this spirit of adventure is embedded within true questioning.
That's not to say that answers aren't important. They do come, but often not the ones we'd expect, and often ones that open up to even deeper questions. In this way, those moments of fuzziness, when dealt with patiently, become opportunities to turn our boundaries into edges of exploration. When we think we know, we expect to find a solution in the direction in which we are looking; when we don't know where to look, we remain open to all directions. But remaining open and "unmoving," as Lao Tzu suggests, isn't about being passive or lacking conviction. There's lots of committed activity happening beneath the surface -- it takes great effort and discipline to remain alert to what's happening within. This sharp alertness awakens us to the power of the subtle: the mental seeds we sow become the roots of our skillful words and actions. And it is patience which creates that inner space. First, the mud -- our unexamined reactions and habituated patterns of interpretation -- rises to the surface, but then eventually it settles. Our view clears. We find that those initial, rigid interpretations relax and a multiplicity of perspectives emerge. We start to see in a way that is more real, more whole, more true, and we become more free to consciously choose our actions.
Through it all, the journey of patience is rooted in knowing that our current reality inevitably gives way to change. But change won't always happen when we think it should, and patience with ourselves comes from accepting that there are things we can control and things we can't. And though we must make diligent efforts to keep pushing the boundaries of our awareness and to deepen our ability to rest comfortably in the present moment, how fast we develop isn't up to us. That same fifth grader who couldn't wait to blurt out answers, now sees the value of meeting questions with a heart of patience. Patience, then, is a kind withholding of judgment and of conclusion, a valiant invitation for our evolution to unfold just as it needs to.
This article was printed with permission. More from the author: Viral Mehta
I realized long ago, impatience gets me nothing but frustrated, (more frustrated), sometimes we all slip up, (I did yesterday), I realized it soon after and re-adjusted myself and the reason I was impatient. My daughter is the most impatient person, she's a lot like I was back at her age (31) with 3 children, understandable of course. But trying to help her realize it only makes her blood pressure go up, her body reacts by getting headaches, and there is absolutely nothing to gain by being impatient. This article came along just in time for me, and her!
1 reply: Hansa | Post Your Reply
Patience and boy do i need it ! But I also think some amount of impatience is required to stir things up sometimes, maybe i have to go a long way still to master this art but hopeful meanwhile impatience can help me be the go-getter & risk taker.
So well written.
Being patient is not about being unaffected or passive, it's about that inner peace that drives you to have faith in 'time' to clear things up for you.
This teaches some good lessons. Patience is something that is lacking in the world today. We all could be more mindful by exercising it.
the topics you cover are very interesting,sometimes left unnoticed.
daily...... gives a clear insight about small ,petty things.
"take action"section z very very good,impactful.
its the great thought and great thing to beg in with "Patience". as for example; when anybody becomes rude to us , if all of a sudden we speak and after some time we speak , there will be difference. We are blind in speaking without any patience. Thanyou for this viral...
With patience comes distance, and with distance comes a deeper perception!
Man is made in the image of God.(Genesis1:26). 'Be still,and Know that I am God (Ps.46:10).
When we realize that God is in us, there is no need to worry about the world's passing shadows.Easier said than done :)
"Patience, then, is a kind withholding of judgment and of conclusion, a valiant invitation for our evolution to unfold just as it needs to." Thank you for this, Viral! I have struggled with muddy waters and how to tell the difference between intuitive facing-fear in-the-moment and not-enough-info moments. I appreciate the reference to patience as connected to judgement and an invitation - i.e. an expression, that one is open to life's unfolding. Much more active and something I could rally behind. Yes!!
You have offered a fresh new perspective on patience. I appreciate your thoughtful and insightful reflections. This way of approaching life is so lovely and I am inspired to cultivate more patience in my life.Thank you, Viral!
nice thoughts Viral.. They came in just when i needed it the most.... Thanks a tons those wise words!
It's not how long one waits, it's how he behaves while waiting that makes all the difference.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING...
On May 27, 2017 siska wrote:
An interesting sharing to learn more by sprei anti air
Post Your Reply