God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change… Most people are familiar with the serenity prayer but do most people embrace the message behind it? I’ll venture to say no. What does it really mean to ask to be more serene? Images of a Japanese koi pond with a soft breeze hitting the water come to mind (well, at least my mind) when thinking “serenity.” But in this case, serenity has less to do with Far Eastern décor and more to do with inner stability and patience.
Patience is also said to be a virtue (AKA moral excellence; goodness; righteousness). In other words, patience is something people should strive to obtain. When I was younger, I never quite understood why so much focus was put on being patient. I distinctly recall my father saying “patience, son, patience.” But I don’t ever remember being so impatient.
Many of us have jobs that require us to exhibit the utmost patience. Let’s face it; if your work entails dealing with other people at all, you need to be patient. Working with others means dealing with their quirks and idiosyncrasies. That quickly can become extremely frustrating.
What makes being patient with others so difficult, I think, is that very few people pay attention nowadays. Most people are so consumed with what is going on in their own bubble and focused on their own concerns that very few people listen to others at all. Then, when we don’t fully understand the situation we are placed (because we didn’t pay attention to what was going on in the first place) our natural first reaction is to become angry and defensive toward the undesired, unexpected outcome.
I guess then to be patient, with ourselves or with others, we need to listen more. Listening and being open to what’s going on around us is definitely a key step in being patient. If we listen more, we can at least understand where other people are coming from better. If we listen more, we might learn more about ourselves in the process. I know, it sounds very much like a clichéd elementary school motivational poster, but it’s the truth.
So now we have a chainlike network going on. To be happy (serene) we need to be patient, to be patient we need to listen, to listen we need to…have ears? Listening unfortunately isn’t as easy as being able to hear, but it really isn’t that hard if we just take some time to really pay attention and focus on the bigger picture for a moment. Being patient really does affect many aspects of our lives.
A couple of years ago, my sisters came across this great quote. I think it sums up what patience really means, quite nicely:
“Patience with others is love, patience with self is hope, patience with God is Faith.” Adel Bestavros