Friday, September 10, 2010

Embracing the Virtue or Patience

I recently heard a talk by Dieter Uchtdorf, former pilot and senior vice president of Lufthansa German Airlines and chairman of the Flight Operations Committee of the International Air Transport Association. He spoke about a patience, a value that in today's society is often neglected for immediate complacency. This talk was insightful and moving and I thought it would be appropriate to take a moment to summarize his thoughts and reflect on his words.

Our world consists of instant messaging, fast food, the one-minute button on the microwave, on-demand movies, and Google; an immense, impressive database of immediate answers to thousands of profound and trivial questions. How many of us have been in what we think is the shortest line of the grocery store, only to see the elderly gentleman at the front of the line pull out a checkbook. A checkbook?! At the grocery store? This is supposed to be an instant transaction of my money with your food via the quick sliding of plastic.

In the 1960’s a professor at Stanford University began a longitudinal study examining the willpower of four-year-old children. He placed one piece of candy before them, told them they could eat it right away or, if they waited 15 more minutes, they could have two pieces of candy. Only 30 percent of children could wait. As time went on the professor tracked the children. The children who could not wait struggled later in life and had more behavioral problems. Those that waited tended to be more positive and better motivated, had higher grades and incomes, and had healthier relationships.

Patience is a tolerance of delay; the state of endurance under difficult circumstances. It’s persevering in the face of provocation without acting on annoyance or anger. Patience, a purifying process, deepens happiness, focuses attention and refines our understanding. It requires actively working towards goals without getting discouraged when results are not instantaneous.

Patience is active waiting and enduring, not passive resignation or failing to act because of our fears. It’s staying with something to the end, delaying immediate gratification and doing all that we can even when our desires are delayed. Patience is accepting what we cannot change and facing it with grace, faith and courage.

Without patience it’s difficult for us to learn the lessons that life throws at us; we are not able to mature and we are selfish. With patience we have self-control, waste less time and make better decisions. We acknowledge the present - we start being rather than becoming.

The next time you find yourself pressing the elevator button more than once, step back and reflect on how you are embracing the virtue of patience.

~ Courtesy of the CMC newsletter

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