Patience is the Key to a Happy Life

I know this is going to make me sound like that stereotypical “old person” who just complains about “kids these days!” But this is actually a post about the importance of patience and why it’s so important to a meaningful life. It’s a virtue, a fruit of the Rosary, and implied in one of Mary’s Rosary promises.

The Coarsening of Society

I can’t be the only one noticing the “coarsening of society.” People seem to lose all self-control and dignity over the most trivial inconveniences. We’ve all seen people melt down or get abusive over a messed-up food order or a late delivery. What about that driver who is tailgating you, honking, and then passing you at 60 mph in a residential area? Have you ever had someone get angry at you when you were driving and almost hit him although he was the one lazily jaywalking across a busy road? Yeah, people seem to fly off the handle over anything these days.

I said low-fat almond milk, not non-fat soy!

Today, more than ever, we need to exercise patience. We need to exercise it in two ways. First, we need patience to deal with this impatient world. We don’t do ourselves or society any favors returning impatience with more impatience. It also pulls us down into a cycle of unhappiness because we find an excuse to make any occasion an unhappy one. Instead, we need to choose civility and calmness if we are to find happiness in our lives.

More importantly, exercising patience also prepares us for those difficult times in our lives — the BIG things. If we can’t handle that incorrect food order, how are we going to handle that cancer diagnosis, the death of a loved one, or that fight with a spouse? Showing patience in the small things helps build up our resolve and perseverance for the big ones. We have to think of patience like daily exercise — it helps keep us spiritually fit.

Patience as a Virtue

Patience is an important element of faith. That is why it’s one of the seven capital virtues. It allows us to bear suffering without being overwhelmed by sorrow or abandoning virtuous living. It gives us the strength to imitate Christ even when our passions want to lash out over a situation we deem unfair or unwarranted. It’s what keeps us returning to God even when it seems pointless. Patience is intertwined with virtues such as charity, temperance, diligence, and humility.

Patience in the Rosary

The fruit of the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery is patience. Picture Jesus, unfairly condemned to death and constantly falling under the weight of his cross. Jesus didn’t complain or lash out about his situation. He quietly endured it knowing it was what God asked of him. Often, we need to show patience for what God asks of us. God’s plan may not be an easy one, but through the Rosary, we cultivate virtues like patience to see us through challenges on our road to Heaven.

Patience is what allows us to overcome life’s challenges. This is why Mary’s sixth promise to those who pray the Rosary is “Whoever recites my Rosary devoutly reflecting on the mysteries, shall never be overwhelmed by misfortune.” It’s not that you will avoid misfortune, but you will have virtues such as patience to endure them. Like Jesus carrying his cross, you will endure and ultimately triumph when you embrace the Rosary.

Do yourself and the world a favor, make an effort to exercise patience every day. Maybe that means leaving some criticism of a loved one unsaid. Maybe that means taking a few extra seconds to think before acting. Before lashing out, picture Jesus standing behind you (because he’s always with us). Does a profanity-laced tirade seem like a good idea? I hope not! Pray the Rosary and ask for Mary’s help in cultivating patience in your life. You and everyone around you will be happier as a result.