Is Patience Really a Virtue?

By Kristen K. Brown

After a week of potty training, it got me to thinking about patience.  This virtue seems to be disguised as something more – a gentle characteristic posing as strength of will.  “How long can I take it?  How much time can I wait?”  But when a two and a half year old is testing your will – and your patience – it feels more like an internal battle.  Part of us want to be the kind and gentle person blessed with the fortitude to withstand that which seeks to break us (It’s OK to sit on your potty chair for half an hour trying to go.  It is really hard to do when you’re first learning.) while the other part wants to fight to get what we want – quickly and with as little resistance as possible.  (Do NOT pee on the floor or I will be really, really annoyed!)  So how can we balance out the two extremes of patient waiting and impatiently demanding?  I found a quote that perfectly sums up how to look at these opposing forces.

“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves … Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps, then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”  –Rainer Maria Rilke

Isn’t this a great way to think about patience?  If we focus on the question and the journey instead of always wanting the payoff in the end, it completely shifts the way we think.  By living each day as if it’s a stepping stone on our path instead of an end result, we can learn to appreciate all of the experiences that come our way.  And we will all have our time to reap the benefits of our waiting.  We’ll all have our moment in the spotlight.  I found a sweet little one-minute video called “The Flowering” that reinforces this message.  And while it’s difficult to not expect instant gratification in this time of fast food, instant messaging, OnDemand movies and television and Express everything, there is something to be said for appreciating and enduring a long, drawn out wait. 

Remember the anticipation of a first kiss?  Or the first warm day of spring?  Those are prime examples of patience paying off in a big, big way.  Or how about a two and a half year old finally going potty for the first time by herself and the smiles and hugs it elicits in her?  Now that is what I call a reward well worth the wait.

Kristen Brown


Kristen Brown is a widow mom and the founder of, an author, entrepreneur, radio host and speaker. Learn more about her and her companies at


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