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The Taos News


can be heard discussing Positive Psychology here.



August 2012

Patience is the propensity to wait calmly in the face of frustration or adversity and is enacted (or not) in our daily activities such as waiting in traffic and standing in line,  as well as in more significant and long-term situations such as parenting.  Although patience often involves waiting, it is also needed in the moment, such as when we have to deal with a difficult child.

Because situations that require patience are fundamental to human experience, it has long been considered an important virtue for all humans to have.  Familiar sayings like, “Good things come to those who wait,’ exemplify the desirability of the trait.  However, it has only recently received attention from modern psychologists as worthy of study. Their research shows that daily hassles and frustrations which require patience have an especially negative impact on the physical health and well-being of people who lack it.  Their research also shows that patience is positively correlated with well-being, positive coping, and thriving. 

Patience creates well-being in a variety of ways.  When we are patient, we make better decisions.  Patience also helps guard the door to our anger, giving us greater tolerance and empathy and enabling us to get more of what we want.  It also makes us better parents.

Given the number of frustrating circumstances we face each day and the positive results that can accrue from practicing patience, we all can benefit from having more of it.  So, how can we become more patient?  The following are a number of suggestions to help you, and your family, get started on the road to greater patience.

It will help if each family member works to develop an attitude of patience.  Being patient requires a conscious decision.  The following sentences will help you in deciding to be more patient:   “I’m still learning,” “This too shall pass,”  “Waiting is part of being alive,” and, “Where are you hurrying to?” Ask yourselves what really matters in the larger scheme of things.  Remind yourselves that things work out, there’s more than one right way, and some things are worth waiting for. It also helps to remember that people are only human.

In addition to helpful attitudes you can develop towards patience, there are also things you can do to get better at being patient.  First, tell yourselves the truth about where each of you are right now in regards to being patient.  Discuss what triggers your impatience so you can get to know the early-warning signs.   A ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, even in regards to patience!

When you do feel yourself getting impatient, take a breather.  If necessary, issue a “storm warning” to your children when you feel yourself getting close to “losing it”, and vice versa. When you can, rather than let tension build up in the first place, take a moment to tap into your inner wisdom and let it lead you to a more patient way.   
Reframing the situation you are in can also help.  For example, rather than becoming annoyed, remind yourself that patience is your teacher and therefore your friend.  Instead of thinking about how little time you have, tell yourself you have all the time you need.

As parents, we all regularly encounter frustrating circumstances involving our children where we may or may not exhibit patience.   If you remember the relation between patience and well-being it can motivate you to improve the quality of life in your family setting by being more patient.  If you find yourself acting with impatience, be merciful with yourself.  It is a skill you can obtain if you practice and everyday you can begin the task of being patient anew.


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