The one thing I remember from my childhood is my mother rarely raising her voice at us kids. No matter what happened or what we did tantrums and all.
She loved me and my sister calmly and with a boatload of patience. It’s one of the qualities I admire the most about her. In a world where instant gratification is the norm and we get texts, emails and downloads faster than a blink of an eye patience is something we could all use – especially now.
Patience to keep our 6 feet of distance from other people and let them pass by without rushing into a packed elevator. Patience to wait this pandemic out by staying inside as much as we possibly can. Patience with the ones we now may be spending more time with at home.
It’s no coincidence that patience is considered a virtue. It’s so important, in fact, I write about it in my book Recharge: Find Joy, Boost Your Energy, Take Charge of Your Health because it’s so beneficial for our health too.
A study done at the University of Austin, Texas found that people who exhibit impatience and irritability tend to have more health complaints and worse sleep. Another study by Fuller Theological Seminary professor Sarah A. Schnitker and UC Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons found that patient people were less likely to have health problems like headaches, ulcers, acne, diarrhea, and pneumonia.
Patience improves our mental health. That same study by Schnitker and Emmons found that patient people usually are less prone to depression and negative emotions. This is most likely because they can cope better with upsetting or stressful situations. They also consider themselves more mindful. They feel more gratitude, more connection to mankind and to the universe, and a greater sense of abundance. Who wouldn’t want to feel that?
It also helps us achieve our goals. According to a 2012 study by Schitker patient people reported putting in more effort toward their goals than other people did. In particular, those with interpersonal patience (the type of patience that doesn’t involve waiting but rather simply facing annoying or frustrating people calmly and with a level head.) made more progress and were more satisfied when they achieved their goals compared with less patient people. The greater satisfaction with achieving their goals explained why the patient achievers were more content with their lives.
So how do you become more patient?
Schnitker found in another 2012 study that four key components help cultivate patience. They are:
- Learning to be aware and recognize feelings and what triggered them
- Controlling your emotions
- Cultivating empathy for others
In just two weeks participants reported feeling more patient toward the challenging people in their lives, feeling less depressed, and experiencing higher levels of positive emotions.
My mom certainly has a lot of empathy. Whenever we were down she would always want to understand what made us upset and talk it out. She would shower us with loving hugs and words.
What kind word or loving hug could you give to someone who could really use it right now?