Six Ways to Benefit from the Importance of Patience
We all have goals, dreams, expectations, and aspirations that we strive for each day. The achievement of these things makes us feel whole, joyful, and fulfilled and gives us reasons to keep living, even when things get tough. But in achieving them, we often want to jump to the finish line without going through the learning process that must be undertaken along the way, which is dependent on the importance of patience.
Take, for instance, learning to drive. Continual practice is required. You can’t allow the eagerness and excitement of cruising your car around town to make you jump the methodical process needed to drive safely. You have to learn about road signs and what they mean.
First, practice in areas with no other cars and gradually move to roads and highways with other regular drivers. Eventually, you have the confidence to make turns, avoid distractions, and confidently drive on your own.
Hence, learning to drive requires practice in varying conditions, so the new driver is confident in their ability to handle most situations and detect hazards and react to them quickly.
The Definition of Patience
Patience is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “the ability to wait, or to continue doing something despite difficulties, or to suffer without complaining or becoming annoyed.”
It never ceases to astonish me how these simplistic explanations define a concept that’s so challenging to practice at times. Ultimately, patience is a virtue that helps us learn the necessary lessons on our journeys to our goals in life and to wait long enough to achieve our dreams.
Let’s explore this through the parable of the Chinese Bamboo Tree. This story teaches us perseverance, personal growth, patience, and, notably… human potential!
The parable of the Chinese Bamboo Tree — Learning the importance of patience
Once upon a time, a Chinese farmer living in a small village struggled to survive and provide for his family. One day, having learned about the profitability of a Chinese bamboo tree, he purchased some of its seed with the bit of money he had saved and set his hope on harvesting and selling it.
With a heart toward the future, he digs hole after hole, plants the seeds, and begins their care. Day after day, he carries water to the spots he has planted them in and waters the areas. Daily, he carefully inspects the locations where he has planted them but sees no noticeable growth, just soil.
Knowing he has to feed his family, he plants other crops carefully sewn around the spots that contain the real hope for his future. He continued to water them daily, feeding them carefully and watching, but nothing appeared on the surface. The other crops sprout within weeks, providing immediate food for his family but nothing to sustain them in the future. These crops simply provide for his present needs.
The Chinese Bamboo seeds contain all his hopes and dreams. A whole year goes by, watering the locations daily, yet nothing. The farmer continues to saturate the bamboo seeds in the second year, but there are no visible signs of activity or development. His hopes and dreams seem farther away from him than ever.
He wondered, “has the seed rotted? Has it died before it had the chance to grow?” But he remained patient and kept nurturing the spots where he planted the seeds. Another year goes by, and nothing.
His neighbors, who don’t know and believe in the process and miracle of the Chinese Bamboo, laugh at him. They mock his vision for the future and look on with scorn as he hauls buckets of water to the spots. He begins to question himself, “will it ever grow? Am I pouring water and my life’s energy into something that will reap no reward for me?” But he keeps at it. Another year goes by, and nothing.
It’s been four years of pouring water, energy, and hope into the Chinese Bamboo, and he had nothing to show for it. Yet he believed in the miracle of the Chinese Bamboo. He’s heard of the enormous rewards for those who persevere.
One day, as he stands over where he planted the seeds, he cries out his frustrations and fears. The ground reveals nothing. The very earth seemed to mock him, yet the spirits spoke hope to him. He sighs and hauls yet more buckets of water. “Surely the miracle will happen now,” he thought to himself.
His neighbors had quit laughing now. They no longer even cared and now gossiped that the farmer wasn’t in his right senses anymore. At this point, the farmer isn’t even sure why he continues to water the soil. Yet he is accustomed to the daily habit. He dutifully takes daily action. It’s simply what he patiently does now, with no knowledge of reward — just the simple, unspoken hope that life resides beneath the locations he so carefully tends.
Another year passes, and still nothing.
It’s now been five years, and the farmer is exhausted and tired of hauling buckets. Tired of having to grow and tend so many other crops to feed his struggling family. Tired of trying to keep his dream alive. Tired of seeing no noticeable results day after day. He stares hopelessly at the spot and thinks it was all a waste of time.
Despair rocks his soul as he thinks about the five years he has put into his hope for a better future. The vision of a better life for his family melts away under harsh reality. Tears fill his eyes as he grabs for the last hope and slowly lifts the bucket to pour water onto his dream.
Then comes the morning when the whole village is jolted awake by the cries of joy from the farmer. They watch, startled through their windows, as he runs down the dusty road calling for his family to come and see the plant. As his family races back up the road after him, the rest of the village peers from their houses to see what excited this strange farmer.
They find the family clustered around the spots talking excitedly.
From the edge of the road, they can see green sprouts thrusting out from the bare ground.
The Chinese Bamboo rises before their very eyes.
The farmer is dancing.
The miracle has come!
The sites become the place for everyone in the village to come, watching in amazement as the Bamboo grows and grows. Five feet, ten feet, twenty feet, thirty feet, and on until it had grown 90 feet tall in just six weeks! “Five years of nothing and now this! 90 feet in 6 weeks!” the farmer shouts excitedly.
The farmer stands to the side. He’s aware all his dreams have come true. The harvest will provide all he dreamed of for his family. The Bamboo springing from the deep roots developed during the last five years will provide for generations to come. He also realized the lessons he has learned are far more valuable.
“Finally, my patience paid off,” he says as he smiles proudly, beaming with joy and satisfaction.
From this farmer’s story, we clearly see the importance of patience when reaching for any dreams or goals.
Using this story as our backdrop, let’s now dive into why we lose patience and the effects of losing it, the benefits of patience, and how we can learn to practice patience through life.
Why do we often lose patience?
Patience is crucial to daily life — and might be the key to creating a blissful one. When we possess patience, we can calmly weather hindrances or adversity, so anywhere there is frustration or hardship — i.e., nearly everywhere — we have the opportunity to practice it.
However, many factors contribute to us looking for shortcuts and losing patience in our day-to-day lives. Three of the most common ones include:
Ignorance of the importance of patience
Our lives are outcomes of our daily choices, which depend on what we know and understand or don’t. Hence, without proper knowledge of the process required to achieve a goal or dream, it is easy to think things are too slow, and we lose patience.
Had the farmer unearthed his tiny seed every year to see if it was growing, he would have hindered the Chinese Bamboo tree’s growth and stunted its potential.
The lack of a solid foundation
Just as a Bamboo tree needs to have robust roots to survive. The same principle is true for how we live our lives. We often labor towards our dreams and goals but encounter adversity and obstacles along the way. Like learning to drive a car, without a solid foundation to handle the unpredictable hazards along the way, we often give up on our journeys and fail to sustain our passions.
Comparing ourselves to others
We are all running individual races in life and have different paces of growth. Comparing yourself to others and their opinions it’s a sure-fire path to becoming impatient when another person is doing better than us or has a different view on the merits of our aspirations.
What are the consequences of impatience?
Several adverse effects are bound to occur when we lack patience in our lives. These include:
- Loss of focus;
- Not sustaining what we start;
- Mental and physical health issues;
- Anger and frustration;
- Poor judgment and decision-making;
- And many others.
What are six benefits of practicing patience
The following are six of the fundamental reasons why you should practice patience.
It helps you make logical decisions.
When you are patient, you will be in a better state of mind to handle sudden situations because you will be calm enough to pause, think and reflect to avoid acting rashly.
It improves your overall health.
A patient person will be able to handle pressure and other emotions very well because they learn to take charge of their circumstances and not let their conditions control them. A 2007 study published by UC Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons and Fuller Theological Seminary professor Sarah A. Schnitker found that people possessing patience are less likely to experience depression and negative emotions.
It enhances your relationships.
In their 2014 study, Debra R. Comer and Leslie E. Sekerka found, “Patience involves emphatically assuming some personal discomfort to alleviate the suffering of those around us.” When you practice patience, you can better understand and tolerate the people in your life. This will cause them to, in turn, value you and ultimately cause the relationships to thrive.
It maximizes your potential.
The difference between a rushed assignment and one that is patiently done is always obvious. When you practice patience, you will be learning many important lessons that will equip you to do as much as possible the best way you can.
It brings peace of mind.
With patience comes a tranquil and peaceful state of mind that refuses to be anxious or annoyed about the seemingly slow pace of things. Even though situations beyond your control might arise and tempt you to worry or act aggressively, practicing patience will enable you to remain calm and in control of such situations.
It ignites hope
Like the farmer, when you learn to become patient, you can stay hopeful even when your situations suggest otherwise. And when you have hope, you will be able to wait long enough until you obtain the great things you desire.
What are six steps you can use to discover and nurture the importance of patience?
Patience is not only a virtue but a skill that can be learned and continuously nurtured. The following are six practical steps you can take to discover and nurture this vital skill of patience:
Focus on your own journey
By paying attention to your personal and unique journey towards your dreams and goals, you can avoid rushing or taking shortcuts to get to where others are. This focus will help you concentrate and get the very best from yourself.
Understand your process
Before setting out to pursue any goal, take time to understand what is required to achieve that goal. This will help guard against a wrong mindset that you are supposed to be getting things faster and prevent you from having unnecessary pressures.
Mind your environment
We are all products of certain influences. If you are constantly around impatient people, you will likely be. So, intentionally dissociate yourself from places and people who could negatively influence you.
Realize that the environment isn’t only a physical place but what influences your mind. So, consciously guard your mind against things that could influence it to be impatient.
Spend time in leisure activities
One reason you may get easily worked up and impatient with yourself, people, and situations is because you spend all the time working and are stressed.
You need to loosen up and spend time conducting adult play and enjoying relaxing activities like going to the beach, listening to music, playing games, hanging out with friends, and the like. These will help relax your mind and put you in a better state to practice patience.
Maintain an attitude of gratitude
When you’re constantly grateful for the things you have in your life, no matter how small they may seem, you can stay patient in anticipation of the things you’re looking forward to. Ultimately, this attitude will encourage you and strengthen your resolve to wait until you get what you hope for.
In learning to be patient towards others, you must consciously practice empathy — the ability to understand and share other people’s feelings. This will help you respond to their actions more gently and enable you to treat them with love and respect.
Why patience is a critical component of success
Gary Vaynerchuk said, “Patience isn’t a hindrance to success — it’s a key component.” Gary makes a great point that it takes time to accomplish great things. There is a process to everything in life, and anything worthwhile and meaningful will always require a lot of patience to see it through to reality.
Speed has its benefits. But, many people misinterpret that real art comes in the form of understanding when to apply both: speed at a micro-level and patience at a macro one to accomplish our end goals ultimately.
Let’s face it. Patience is a difficult virtue to master, but it can significantly impact the outcome of your goals. When you are patient, it improves your mental and physical health. It’s fundamental in strengthening relationships and can bring you great joy. Patience is essential in life and will allow you to succeed personally and professionally.
Don’t stress over achieving a goal by a specific time or age — just enjoy the journey.
Finally, I will leave you with these words of American inventor and businessman Thomas Edison: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
I hope you choose not to give up but to practice patience so you can fulfill your biggest dreams!
This article is based on an episode of Passion Struck with John R. Miles. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, or your favorite podcast platform.
- Read my recent article on why the real prisons exist in the mind and what we believe.
- Are you having trouble prioritizing yourself? I discuss where you invest your love; you invest your life in Episode 104
- I explain why materialism is impacting your success and happiness in episode 96.
- Do you know the science of healthy habits? I explore this in-depth in Episode 108.
- Suppose you missed my interview with Jen Bricker-Bauer on Everything is Possible. Don’t panic! You can catch up by downloading it here.
- How do you strengthen your relationship with your best self? Explore episode 110.
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