How Do We Develop The Virtue of Patience in A World of Instant Gratification?


“Patience is the greatest of all virtues.”
Cato the Elder(234 BC – 149 BC)

There seems to be such a contrast in how people around the world are living, in comparison to living by the basic virtues that have been around for so many centuries! Everyone is in such a hurry to go somewhere or attain something, that the drive and obsession leaves most with nothing but tunnel vision and a disconnect from setting goals and using common sense. The saying that all good things come to he who waits, directly relates to the virtue of patience and from my viewpoint, there definitely isn’t a whole lot of that being displayed.

What is patience?   Per Wikipedia, “patience is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can take before negativity.” Wikipedia also stated that,   “In evolutionary psychology and in cognitive neuroscience, patience is studied as a decision-making problem, involving the choice of either a small reward in the short-term, or a more valuable reward in the long-term. When given a choice, all animals, humans included, are inclined to favour short-term rewards over long-term rewards. This is despite the often greater benefits associated with long-term rewards.”

Knowing that we as humans typically take the short-term rewards, no matter what, makes one wonder and ask the question why. Is it secondary to a world that has pushed instant gratification for so long that we have lost site of the big picture? Is this another side of our throw away society? Are material things so important that we can’t think beyond? Do we want to continue going backwards in life?  Have we mutated out common sense in our thinking process? Have we forgotten how to set goals with perseverance to achieve them? How do we correct this in our younger generations?

First things first. We humans, need to develop as well as practice an awareness of , as well as the desire to morally do what’s right.  We all know that there is a conglomerate of distractions and fluff all around us that so easily leads most astray. We need to work on our self-discipline; taking one day at a time, setting realistic goals and mentally rewarding ourselves as we  make it through each day with success. With the knowledge that we can set a goal and with self-discipline, achieve that goal, a motivating desire will arise and only grow from there.

Of course there will be days when we might not succeed, but as long as we learn from it, pick ourselves back up and continue on towards our goals, then its okay. Over time, one will obtain the mental skills to control his environment,  no matter what temptations arise. There is mammoth rewards of personal satisfaction when reaching this point. Observing the elder generations, you will note the peace that surrounds most of their lives. These individuals grew up in a world of self-discipline and a reality much harsher than anything the younger generations of today have ever known. Learn from the wise.

Wikipedia adds to achieving personal goals; “Achieving complex and difficult goals requires focus, long-term diligence and effort. Success in any field requires forgoing excuses and justifications for poor performance or lack of adequate planning; in short, success requires emotional maturity. The measure of belief that people have in their ability to achieve a personal goal also affects that achievement. Long-term achievements rely on short-term achievements. Emotional control over the small moments of the single day makes a big difference in the long-term.”

We must (no ifs, ands or buts) learn that we are personally in charge of our own walk through life, along with responsibility and accountability for. Unless we learn and use the lessons of self-discipline, setting goals with the perseverance to work hard, we will have lost the phenomenal virtue of patience. These skills are crucial for everyone, in order to control our world and not it, control us!!


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