Why be patient?

Waiting to cross.

Importance of patience

Impatience Paid for with Life.” Those were the arresting words headlining a short article in the newspaper.

The persistent honking horn of an automobile standing before the closed barriers of a railroad crossing prompted the young lady attendant there to raise the barriers prematurely.

This allowed “an impatient car driver” to pass through. Just as he was halfway across, a speeding train struck the car broadside, dragging it 180 m (590 feet) down the tracks.

Certainly a drastic example, but one that illustrates how dangerous impatience can be. We live in a world where patience is a rare quality.

More and more automobile drivers speed. Others tailgate—follow too closely—cars going the speed limit.

Yet others weave from lane to lane because they cannot abide being behind another vehicle.

In the home, family members may give vent to fits of rage and become violent.

No doubt you have heard of persons who have suffered relapses simply because they became impatient and got out of bed or went back to work too soon after a serious illness.

And relapses can be extremely serious, even deadly. Yes, impatient people can put themselves in peril, even in dire danger of losing life itself.

What can causes us to become impatient?

Cause of impatience

Ignorance can sometimes cause impatience. A person with limited knowledge may fail to see the need for exercising patience.

However, with an accurate knowledge of all the facts, an individual might feel different.

If the “impatient car driver” had known accurately the nearness and the speed of the train that later struck him, he undoubtedly would have shown patience.

Another reason for impatience may be that a person thinks too highly of himself or takes himself too seriously.

Note that the patient person is usually contrasted with the one who is haughty, proud. The proud person may reason:

"Why should I have to put up with irritations and annoyances caused by the stupidity and selfishness of others? Who do they think I am?

Also, the haughty one is quick to take everything personally and to lash out against anyone who might correct him. He nurtures resentment, keeping it close to him as if in his own bosom.

Of course, not all forms of impatience are rooted in pride. For example, a family may have an appointment for dinner at a specific time in the home of friends.

The father and mother may be ready to go in ample time to get there without hurrying. However, the daughter, because of not being enthusiastic about going, or for some other reason, may have delayed making the needed preparations to leave.

The parents may, therefore, urge her to get ready more quickly so that they will not be late. Any impatience they may reflect in their tone of voice cannot be attributed to pride.

Rather, they may be troubled about their daughter’s failure to be considerate, and they may be concerned about the disturbing effect that their being late could have on their hosts.

This also illustrates the importance of avoiding situations that could give valid reasons for others to become impatient with us.

Whatever the cause, however, if impatience is not controlled it may make a person act rashly or foolishly.

The example cited at the outset certainly demonstrates how foolish impatience can be.

Did this impatient driver have anything so important to do that it could not have waited another two or three minutes?

Of course, waiting a while might have made him late for an appointment. But, as it turned out, because of impatience he failed to keep any such appointment at all!

So, if you do not want to act foolishly, learn to be patient.

How can impatience affect us?

Impatient with ourselves

Why, at times we even fail to be patient with ourselves! But this, too, is important lest we become discouraged because of our limitations and imperfections.

Being impatient with ourselves can make us think we are waging a losing battle and may cause us to give up in despair in our race for life. This would be more dangerous.

For example, consider the habit of smoking. Some former smokers found that giving up cigarettes really was very difficult.

But others had a struggle before they finally succeeded in shaking the habit.

Nevertheless, being persistent led to eventual success, whereas being impatient might have led to early failure

Our impatient modern world

Especially in many urban areas, a premium is put not on patience but on speed. For millions of people living in crowded cities, each day begins when the morning alarm goes off.

This starts the frantic race—to get somewhere, to see someone, to achieve something. Is it any wonder that many are tense and impatient?

Because of this, you find yourself pacing back and forth, becoming more and more irritated, when you have to wait a few extra minutes for a train or bus.

Or, it may be that you expected your husband home for supper a little earlier, or you may be kept waiting by your wife.

When that happens, do you greet the other person with sincere pleasure when he arrives? Or are you upset, and is your greeting sharp?

Most would agree that waiting for someone who is overdue is stressful, especially if there is a deadline to be met.

Regarding the Duke of Newcastle, an 18th-century British politician, it was said:

"He loses half an hour in the morning, which he is running after the rest of the day without ever being able to overtake it.’

If you had to depend on such a person day after day, would you remain patient?

How often are you impatient with strangers?

You may find fault with the way others drive, or may complain about the service that clerks or waiters give them in stores or restaurants.

But being patient with family members and friends sometimes is even more difficult. Why?

A salesman may exercise great patience all day long, trying to please customers, only to come home in the evening and be anything but patient with his wife and children.

But are there any benefits of being patient?

Benefits of patience

The patient person does not allow himself to get upset quickly and, hence, is less likely to act rashly.

Thus he preserves a good conscience and avoids needless quarreling and fighting.

There is also a health benefit calmness and patience, even in the face of trying circumstances, it will further the well-being of the entire body.

On the other hand, continued upsets and irritations are like a disease that can weaken the human frame.

There is also pleasure in associating with those who patiently explain things that we do not understand.

It is much easier for us to deal with people who are willing to overlook our minor shortcomings, who are patient with us despite our repeated failings.

Thus, patient is a quality that will help us get along with others.

In view of the benefits that come from showing patience, we should certainly want to display this fine quality.