Just Wait a Minute! (Why Patience Isn’t What You Think)

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We were talking about patience on More2Life Radio today.  What it is, what it isn’t, and how to get more of it.

Patience, of course, is the virtue we all love to hate.  We all know we need it, but we sure as heck don’t want to ask God to give it to us.  And yet, perhaps some of that reluctance is due to the fact that we don’t really understand what patience is.

Patience—> Happiness

Psychologists refer to patience as the ability to delay gratification and we know from research that this ability is essential for a happy life.  In his famous Stanford Marshmallow Experiments, psychologist Walter Mischel studied a group of kindergartners.  He placed a marshmallow in front of each kid in his study and told them they could eat this marshmallow now or, if they could refrain from eating that marshmallow for 15 minutes while he stepped out of the room, they could have 2 marshmallows when he came back.   He recorded their responses and then continued to check in with his participants periodically into adulthood.  He found that the kids who were able to patiently wait for the second marshmallow, in high school, had better academic success and better SAT scores than the kids who ate the marshmallow right away.  As they entered adulthood, the kids who were able to patiently wait for the second marshmallow had lower incidence of addictions and obesity, and reported higher scores on multiple measures of life and relationship satisfaction.

The ability to practice patience is key to living a happy life.

What Patience Is and What It Isn’t

Most people think that patience is the ability to endure an injustice without getting upset.  But that’s not really what it is.  In fact, passivity is Satan’s plagiarism of patience.  To witness an injustice and feel nothing and do nothing isn’t a virtue, it’s the sin of sloth!   In reality, patience is the virtue that allows us to respond to an injustice in a thoughtful, measured, proportionate and responsible way.   Patience is the virtue that allows us to experience an injustice and, instead of lashing out and merely reacting in ways that ultimately make the problem even worse, step back and consider the best way to respond and then allow that good effort to germinate and blossom and bear fruit.

As I observe in my upcoming book, Broken Gods:  Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heartpatience is an active virtue that allows us to respond in an appropriate way and then allow that response to mature and take effect.  It allows us to make appropriate adjustments along the way and wait to see how those changes effect things before we make additional changes.  True patience does not require us to disengage from the problem.  It challenges us to engage in a more thoughtful  and intentional manner.

Cultivating Patience…Painlessly.

It can become easier to practice patience when we stop seeing it as the call to simply grit our teeth and suffer without complaint.  “Practicing patience” is really not about suffering gleefully.  It is about responding to suffering and injustice in a way that allows you to be thoughtful and intentional and then, instead of complaining about it, stepping back and thoughtfully shepherding the good efforts you began to a fruitful and just conclusion.  Yes, patience involves restraining ourselves from  excessive complaining, pouting, and misery-making, but only so that we can save that energy we would waste complaining and instead be able to respond in a mature, productive way to the challenges we face, that God’s will might be done in our lives, that our needs would be met, and the injustices that plagued us could be resolved by his grace.

Seen in this light, perhaps we can allow patience to take it’s place in our lives as a key to happiness and well-being.

 

Are YOU Humble? New Study Identifies the Truth About Humble People

It might seem strange to think that people would study humility, but positive psychology (the branch of psychology that studies well-being) is interested in fostering virtue as an important part of leading

A slice of Humble Pie?

A slice of Humble Pie?

a happy and healthy life.  This is one of the first studies, however, looking at what, exactly humility is and how it benefits us.

Hardy’s analysis found two clusters of traits that people use to explain humility. Traits in the first cluster come from the social realm: Sincere, honest, unselfish, thoughtful, mature, etc. The second and more unique cluster surrounds the concept of learning: curious, bright, logical and aware.

Samuelson says the two clusters of humble traits — the social and intellectual — often come as a package deal for people who are “intellectually humble.” Because they love learning, they spend time learning from other people.

“In many ways, this is the defining feature of intellectual humility and what makes it distinct from general humility,” said Samuelson, who formerly served as a Lutheran pastor prior to his academic career.

The new study appears in The Journal of Positive Psychology.

This study dovetails with my own understanding of humility.  Humility is not the putative “virtue” of running yourself down or refusing to rejoice in the gifts you have been given.  Pride is defined as the vice that says, “I will NOT serve.”  Pride is an obsession with defining one’s own path to fulfillment, hoarding one’s gifts and refusing to be open to learning from the experience of others.  Humility, then, is the awareness that abundance can only be pursued by cooperating with others, sharing what one has with others, and learning from the experience of others.

If you want to be humble, the key is an openness to learn from others, to see the truth, goodness and beauty in the things they find true, good, and beautiful, and to be willing to give of oneself for the benefit of others.

The Four Components of Wisdom

I think most of us would like to be wise, or at least hope to become wise one day.  But I wonder how many of us could articulate what wisdom really looks like.  I suspect most of us know wisdom when we see it, but how many of us would be able to articulate the skills or abilities make up wisdom?

Wisdom: 4 Keys to Getting Unstuck

Today on More2Life Radio, we discussed “getting unstuck.”  When we encounter situations that leave us not knowing what to do and we feel trapped or stuck, it is wisdom that helps us find the way out.  In preparing for the show, I came across a study that identified 4 skills that the researchers considered indicative of “wise reasoning.”  I thought they represented as good an operational definition of wisdom as I’ve ever encountered.  The more you cultivate the following abilities in your life and relationships, the more likely it is you will be able to find creative solutions to even the thorniest problems.  Take a look!

1.  The Ability to Recognize the Limits of our own Knowledge.

If we are willing to genuinely acknowledge what we don’t know, then we know when its time to seek new skills, resources, or counsel.

2. The Ability to Seek Compromise

Compromise has a bad reputation.  Most people tend to think of it as settling on the solution that is equally dissatisfying to everyone.  That’s a bad compromise.  A good compromise assesses what everyone’s needs are and then tries to brainstorm solutions that take those needs into account.  That takes some creativity and patience, but the wise reasoner recognizes that anything less just won’t hold over time.  Unless everyone is satisfied with a solution, it is no solution at all.

3.  The Ability to Consider the Perspective of Others

When we become stressed, we get tunnel-vision.  Wise reasoners  intentionally force themselves to consider the perspectives of others by asking questions like, “What would this person think?”  and “How would I advise someone else who was dealing with this problem?”

4.  The Ability to Recognize All the Possible Ways a Scenario Could Unfold

Too often, we become married to our ideal solution and we think that every other possible outcome can’t help but disappoint.   The wise reasoner is willing to both look at all the possible ways a situation could play out and ask themselves how they might make the best out of each of those possible outcomes.  This ability to see how multiple outcomes could be worked to one’s advantage helps generate a sense that “all shall be well” and makes it safe to consider solutions that might, at first, seem less than ideal.

Let Wisdom Watch Over You

Proverbs 4:6 says, “Do not forsake wisdom and she will protect you.  Love her, and she will watch over you.”  While there are many factors that can contribute to the achievement of wisdom, consciously cultivating these 4 abilities can set you on the path to becoming the sort of wise-reasoner who is able to find ways to get unstuck from even the stickiest situations.

 

Coming Friday on More2Life Radio: What’s In YOUR Basket?

What’s in YOUR Basket?     As we enter into Holy Week and  get ready for Easter, we want to reflect on the virtues that help us rise up to live life as a gift.  We’ll look especially at the fruits of the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, and Self-Control) and explore ways to increase the experience of these and other virtues in our daily lives.

Do you have questions about being a more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, self-controlled person?  Then call in from Noon-1pm Eastern (11am-Noon Central) at 877-573-7825

Don’t forget to answer our M2L Facebook Q of the D:  If you had to choose one, which virtue/quality (for example:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, etc) would help you the most in your life and why?

Listen to More2Life live weekdays from Noon-1pm E (11am-Noon C). Can’t get M2L on a Catholic radio station near you? Tune in live online at www.avemariaradio.net, listen via our FREE AveMariaRadio IPhone or Android App (Check your app store!), or catch the M2L Podcast!

Coming Fri on More2Life Radio–God Give Me…Patience(?)

COMING FRIDAY–God Give Me…Patience(?):  Patience (ugh).  We all need it, but very few of us want it.  Today on M2L we’ll explore the surprising benefits of patience and some ways to cultivate it painlessly. We can’t wait to talk with you (See?  We need patience too!)  Call in from Noon-1pm E (11am-Noon C) at 877-573-7825.

Don’t forget to answer the M2L FB question of the day:  What situations–or people–in your life are hardest to be patient with?

—Listen to More2Life live weekdays from Noon-1pm E (11am-Noon C).  Can’t get M2L on a Catholic radio station near you?    Tune in live online at www.avemariaradio.net,  listen via our FREE AveMariaRadio IPhone or Android App (Check your app store!), or catch the M2L Podcast!