The Concentrated Strength of Patience

“Patience is not passive; on the contrary, it is active; it is concentrated strength.” – Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

As a child walking to school, I irritated my fellow walkers with my quick pace and stubborn refusal to walk at a normal speed. As a young adult I could barely contain my displeasure with slow walkers, slow talkers, slow-moving cashiers, hesitant drivers, etc. Wherever I went, I was surround by the slow-moving masses who were impeding my progress.

My mild-mannered grandmother was prone to smile at me and say just one word, “patience.” That usually resulted in an impatient sigh from me. Some learn patience as part of the natural process of maturation. Others have lessons in patience forced on them by life circumstances. For me that circumstance is multiple sclerosis (MS).

It makes me smile now, to think how annoyed I used to be with the slow-movers of the world. Perhaps it is karma at work that I have joined their ranks.

There are always more chores, more errands, more reasons to rush through our days. We are multi-tasking to such an extent that we often neglect the present moment.

Shopping while texting. Driving while phoning. Watching a movie while playing a game on a hand-held. Networking online while visiting with actual living human beings. The impulse is to move on at the expense of the here and now.

I take a more relaxed view of life these days. I take time to see the people around me — really see them. I notice the scenery and appreciate my surroundings. I am in the moment rather than thinking about my next chore, or trying to accomplish two or three tasks at the same time while giving my full attention to none of them.

So much can escape our notice in the daily flurry of activity. Many of our fondest memories come from those moments we least expected… if we are willing to pay attention and alter our pace to fit the moment, not the other way around.

Marc Lesser, author of Less: Accomplishing More By Doing Less, writes that 50 percent of Americans say they are busier this year than last; and only 20 percent of U.S. families say they have regular sit-down dinner with their families, as opposed to 60 percent 20 years ago.

Do those statistics have anything to do with patience? It is more likely a mix of many factors, but patience is most certainly one part of the equation. We’re moving in the wrong direction.

There is something to be said for slowing down. It takes practice to recognize what things we can let go, and what moments we should savor. With patience comes an awareness and appreciation of life as it unfolds.

Patience is an acquired skill, one I have not fully mastered, but I am grateful to be on the journey.

Read Mr. Lesser’s thought-provoking article and ask yourself the question: What If You Had More Time?

Writer Ann Pietrangelo embraces the concept of personal responsibility for health and wellness. As a person living with multiple sclerosis, she combines a healthy lifestyle and education with modern medicine, and seeks to provide information and support to others. She is a regular contributor to Care2 Causes. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo

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J.L. A.
JL A.3 years ago

great reminders

Emma S.
Emma S.4 years ago

In some ways I'm very good at being present, but in others I try to do several things at once. Patience I something I need to cultivate, especially with people who seem to me slow-of-thinking and/or repetitive. I need to learn more tolerance too!

Cristiane P.
Cristiane P.5 years ago

It's a skill I'm loving to acquire day by day also! And although its hard journey here and there it's totally worth it! :-)

Daniel B.
Daniel B.5 years ago

I find patience is probably one of, if not THE most important thing in life. A lack of patience can make ones life miserable and distressful.

john pierce
John Pierce5 years ago

Thank you!

Lynn C.
Lynn C.5 years ago

While taking care of my two elderly parents I have many opportunities to practice patience. Much as I love them (can't imagine life without them) I do lose my patience and appreciate your timely reminder. Thank you.

Diane A.
Diane A.5 years ago

I can relate to this one. For me it is Auto-Immune disease rather than MS. Once when I was having a bad day I was over-taken by an elderly lady with a walking stick. I had to laugh.

Patience is something I must learn to have - most of all with myself. :)

Susan N.
Susan N.5 years ago

Interesting post

Laurie S.

My children have given me the gift of patience and i am so grateful for it. They are just super fun :) I used to be so type A and now I actually listen to other people LOL LOL Ok and i admit that time/aging has helped in this dept. I just don't want to run in circles any more LOL Thanks for the post, Ann :)

Kay O.
Kay O.5 years ago

Last night I went to see a movie with a
friend. While waiting in line, the people
in front of me were involved with their
cell phones and the person in back of me
was talking on his. They all drove to this
event (I walked) and it dawned on me that
people don't interact with others when they
have a chance. Sad.