Patience: It is Worth the Wait

 In today's fast-paced culture, can patience really still be a virtue? Find out why patience is essential to a well-balanced, successful life and how you can become more patient.

Patience Lost

David Shenk loves the speed of the Internet, the instant gratification of email, and the convenience of shopping online. Nevertheless, he also knows that these modern conveniences and the lifestyles they accelerate come at a cost. "We're packing more into our lives," says Shenk, author of The End of Patience, "and losing patience in the process." In his book, Shenk maintains that "We've managed to compress time to such an extent that we're now painfully aware of every second that we wait for anything."

Too Much Technology

It is not just cell phones and call-waiting driving our inability to wait. It is extended to elevators, shopping malls, the gym, and even gas stations. At least one large Northeast hotel chain has installed Internet news monitors in their elevators. At many fitness centers, you can surf the Internet and pedal at the same time. And there are even television monitors positioned at some gas station islands, so you can watch the news while you wait for your gas. In theory, advances in technology should free up time to do other things, but in practice, they tend to perpetuate the need for ever-greater speed. Shenk and others believe that this addiction to convenience can come at too high a cost. When there is no time to wait, there is often no time to think, to connect to other people at deep levels, or to create lasting memories."The real danger is the potential vanishing of spirituality," Shenk explains. "It's difficult to feel the richness of being alive when you've got these distracting electronic impulses [interrupting] your thoughts."

Is Patience Still a Virtue?

Patience can be defined in any number of ways, but it boils down to the ability to wait calmly before taking action and/or accept events that cannot be controlled."Not everyone has to believe the old aphorism that patience is a virtue," says Joseph Tecce, professor of psychology at Boston College. "But everyone has to realize that patience has a number of rewarding consequences that can enhance happiness in the long term."

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