The Practice of Patience

Have you noticed when someone pauses, searching for a word, you want to jump in and rescue them with a word or phrase? It may be the word she’s hunting for, but it may not be. Did he ask for your help? What has us sometimes impulsively insert ourselves into someone else’s learning process or search? Is this actually help or impatience?

I vividly remember my daughter at 2 years old touching the different 3D shapes that went into different slots of a yellow shape sorter with a blue lid and making failed attempts. An important adult in her life entered the room, noticed her “struggle,” walked over, opened the lid, grabbed the shapes out of her hands, threw them into the yellow container, and slammed the blue lid. I didn’t say a word. My daughter looked at him kind of perplexed. I wouldn’t have described this adult as a patient person. He also wasn’t teaching or guiding.

His actions might be like others around you or you may do this. Rather than asking if you can help or allowing another time to figure out a puzzle, you step in and take over the process. Learning something new can take time and many missed shots at the basket or strikeouts.

Do we have the patience to persist with ourselves in our learning? Can we hold space in silence and stillness while others do their searching?

Sometimes I forget that Edison discovered many ways not to make a light bulb. Yet, how important all those pathways became to his ultimate “AHA moment.” Sometimes the best way to be of service to others is to step back and let them find their own path rather than fulfill your need for task completion.

Some of you may notice you lack the bandwidth for patience and expect or demand instant learning within yourself and with others. And some of you are simply quick studies or fast learners. There’s hardly a curve in your learning. You might assume everyone else is wired for that fast track “AHA, I got it!” like you are. Maybe we each have natural proclivities and innate talents that come into play with this, too. I have noticed it’s exciting and maybe easier to learn something in which we are actually interested. For certain, we’ll persist in the midst of obstacles.

It’s also good to know the moment to hand the jar off to the person standing next to you in the kitchen and let them unscrew that adult-proof lid or ask your child to show you how to use the latest app for your phone. There’s also that moment of asking someone for directions when you’ve driven through the same intersection three times because the GPS doesn’t know where you are going either.

There’s this wonderful freedom when we realize not everyone else has to do things like we do or in the time frame we desire. There’s freedom in requesting help when we really do need some. I believe each of us has a unique journey to those “AHA’s” and learning patience with your own process might bring the greatest amount of internal peace and some sense of fulfillment.

What have you discovered about patience and your learning curve?


Laura Staley
Laura Staley
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately helps people thrive by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, mind, body, and soul. Laura knows that there’s a relationship between the conditions of our homes or workplaces and the quality of our lives. Trained and certified with the Western School of Feng Shui and seasoned by almost two decades of working with a variety of clients, Laura uses her intuition and expertise to empower her clients to produce remarkable results in their lives. Her trifecta of serving people includes speaking, writing, and compassionate listening. As a columnist, Laura writes personal essays focused on self-discovery, feng shui, emotional health, and transformations from the inside out. Laura is the published author of three books: Live Inspired, Let Go Courageously and Live with Love: Transform Your Life with Feng Shui, and the Cherish Your World Gift Book of 100 Tips to Enhance Your Home and Life. Prior to creating her company, Laura worked as a fulltime parent and an assistant professor at Ohio Wesleyan University. She earned a Ph.D. in political science from The Ohio State University. Her joys in life include laughing with loved ones, dancing, reading, meditating, running, being in nature, and listening to music she loves. She resides in Black Mountain, NC with lovable dog, Layla. Laura is a contributing author to the inspiring book Crappy to Happy: Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy

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  1. It needs a lot of patience, every day and for everything. Having patience is worthwhile, and helps us to live better even if we no longer recognize any value in this virtue, which is also essential in human relationships as in the effectiveness of private and public action. Indeed, we consider it a waste of time and an anticipation of behaviors that we cannot afford. We live in the era of high speed, of “all and now”, of “disposable”: our clocks are always synchronized on arrival deadlines, commitments to be respected, programs to be completed. And instead patience requires a dilation of the present, an extension of it, a pause in the incessant becoming. You need to pause, to make a truce to be patient. In fact, it is just the patience, its long stride, far from the anxiety of presentism, which allows us to wait for the right moment, the maturation of things and not their evaporation, even before focusing on them. The courtship of a woman is patient, and cannot be played in the instant of an exchange of text messages or messages on social media. The wait for the recognition of one’s own value at work is patient: on the contrary an excessive haste, for a place on the hierarchical scale and for a higher salary, leads to the vice of careerism. And it is patience, sometimes tiring and even frustrating, the search for what unites us compared to what divides us. Patience is what most resembles the process that nature uses in its creations. Just think of the bees, their patients as essential community work: in a single day a single hive visits 225 thousand flowers, with a path equal to four times around the planet. And all the activity of the bees, the wonderful chain of roles and functions, has declined in the name of patience.

    • Oh, such rich and meaningful reflections on the challenges, the downsides of impatience alongside the many wonderful benefits of being patient-especially how taking the time to learn about what unites us rather than divides us. Yes!! And I love your descriptions of the bees! This also makes me think of the spiders taking time to weave their webs, to catch their food, to eat, to live, then finally die when it is their time. Nature lives as such a beautiful model of at the right time, in the right way-of patience. The leaves fall from the branches in their way, in their time. Wind, rain, snow all play a part in this dance. Thank you ever so much for all your thoughts as they resonate deeply with me. I appreciate you, Aldo.

  2. Love your thinking Laura. I concur, the greatest learning comes from our greatest struggle. Sure, we can support by asking questions, but when they have done it themselves, they own it. In my work, listening, silence, listening more, asking, “What more” and listening again, can take the conversation in ways we had no idea it may go there.
    The struggle of the Caterpillar builds the muscles for the butterfly to fly.

    • Yes, yes, yes, Colin. Thank you so much for this offering. Silent listening, holding space with quiet presence definitely allows the conversation to go places you had “no idea it may go there.” Allowing people to hear themselves can often be a great gift especially for external processors! I appreciate you taking the time to read the essay and for your meaningful contribution to the discussion.

    • “Allowing people to hear themselves”, I feel is growing in importance, and life gets overwhelming with little or no time to think. Ones presence, calming influence and my ability to deeply, empathically listen, enables this to happen.

    • Thank you for your honesty in owning your impatience, Norman. I’m certain you are not alone. Great to notice the procrastination and dawdle as a trigger point inside of you when you look outside at others through that particular lens. I appreciate what you’ve observed that trips your impatience trigger, for taking the time to read and offer this insight.

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