“Be patient!” or “patience is a virtue”. Who has never heard this? But what is patience exactly? Patience during an adversity means being able to wait calmly for a bigger reward in the future than someone would receive at that moment. A patient person tolerates or can bear an unpleasant situation until better times come. This requires self-control and is also referred to as deferred gratification.
Three forms of patience
Three forms of patience are mentioned within psychology. The first form is interpersonal patience. This is a calm reaction to other people that we actually find difficult, unpleasant or frustrating. The second form is patience in case of adversity. This is the calm response to and tolerating serious setbacks in life. Think of having a chronic or life-threatening illness or serious financial problems. The third form is patience for daily frustrations. This is a calm response to daily frustrations such as traffic jams or the long line at the checkout. All three forms of patience mean that people respond to a situation that they consider a setback.
Research shows that just having a character strength is not enough to use it effectively. To be able to use a character strength in daily life, such as patience, it is necessary to form a narrative in which experiencing setback acquires meaning or explanation. This means that people tell a story about themselves and what happened to them to shape their identity. In the case of patience, people tell themselves to stay calm by regulating their emotion and attach meaning to the adversity or person they are dealing with.
What does scientific research say?
Although scientific research into patience is still very scarce, a few things are known about the subject. It appears that having patience is related to psychological well-being in the longer term. It also appears that patient people achieve their goals better than impatient people. Patient people accept setbacks and frustrations on their way to their goal. They continue to make more effort and do not drop out. They do something less often at an incorrect or unfavorable moment but are able to wait until the right moment arrives to act.
Being patient can help you deal with life more resiliently. Fortunately, you can practice being more patient:
1. Accept that you are impatient. Tell yourself that you understand that you are impatient, but that if you will wait for a while it will all be okay.
2. Be aware of the things you cannot control. By surrendering to such situations or people you feel much calmer.
3. Take a deep breath. By taking a deep breath, you activate the nervous system to calm down and restore your bodily stress reaction. It gives you room to think clearly again.
Good luck with these tips to become more patient and have faith because it will all be alright in the end.
Dr. Lilian Jans-Beken is founder and ceo of the Thriving Human Science Center. She graduated in lifespan psychology, received a PhD in positive psychology, and she became an expert in gratitude and mental health. She is a scientific researcher who writes and talks about human thriving in general and gratitude specifically. In 2019, she wrote a book Een zoektocht naar dankbaarheid which is available through her personal website