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Patience, engraving by Hans Sebald Beham, 1540

Patience (or forbearing) is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can take before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast. Antonyms include hastiness and impetuousness.


  • Scientific perspectives 1
  • Religious perspectives 2
    • Judaism 2.1
    • Christianity 2.2
    • Islam 2.3
    • Buddhism 2.4
    • Hinduism 2.5
  • Philosophical perspectives 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5

Scientific perspectives

In evolutionary psychology and in cognitive neuroscience, patience is studied as a decision-making problem, involving the choice of either a small reward in the short term, or a more valuable reward in the long term. When given a choice, all animals, humans included, are inclined to favour short term rewards over long term rewards. This is despite the often greater benefits associated with long term rewards.

In a 2005 study involving common marmosets and cottontop tamarins, animals of both species faced a self-control paradigm in which individuals chose between taking an immediate small reward and waiting a variable amount of time for a large reward. Under these conditions, marmosets waited significantly longer for food than tamarins. This difference cannot be explained by life history, social behaviour or brain size. It can, however, be explained by feeding ecology: marmosets rely on gum, a food product acquired by waiting for exudate to flow from trees, whereas tamarins feed on insects, a food product requiring impulsive action. Foraging ecology, therefore, may provide a selective pressure for the evolution of self-control.[1]

Two-second rule: In a recent study[2] involving millions of Internet users who watched online videos, it was shown that users are impatient and begin abandoning videos that do not start playing within 2 seconds. If the video did not start up in 5 seconds about one-fourth of the users abandoned watching the video, and by 10 seconds about half the users were gone.

Patience of human users in the online world has been the subject of much recent scientific research. In a 2012 study [3] involving tens of millions of users who watched videos on the Internet, Krishnan and Sitaraman show that online users run out of patience in as little as two seconds while waiting for their chosen video to start playing.[4] The study also shows that users who are connected to the Internet at faster speeds are less patient than their counterparts connected at slower speeds, demonstrating a link between the human expectation of speed and human patience. These and other scientific studies of patience have led many social commentators to conclude that the rapid pace of technology is rewiring humans to be less and less patient.[5][6][7]

Religious perspectives

Three virtues by Jan Saenredam after Hendrik Goltzius. This is plate 2, titled Patientia.


Patience and fortitude are prominent themes in Judaism. The Talmud extols patience as an important personal trait. The story of Micah, for example, is that he suffers many challenging conditions and yet endures, saying "I will wait for the God who saves me." Patience in God, it is said, will aid believers in finding the strength to be delivered from the evils that are inherent in the physical life.[8]

In the Hebrew Torah, patience is referred to in several proverbs, such as "The patient man shows much good sense, but the quick-tempered man displays folly at its height" (Proverbs 14:29, NAB); "An ill-tempered man stirs up strife, but a patient man allays discord." (Proverbs 15:18, NAB); and "A patient man is better than a warrior, and he who rules his temper, than he who takes a city." (Proverbs 16:32). The emotion is also discussed in other sections, such as Ecclesiastes: "Better is the patient spirit than the lofty spirit. Do not in spirit become quickly discontented, for discontent lodges in the bosom of a fool." (Ecclesiastes 7:8-9, NAB).


In the Christian religion, patience is one of the most valuable virtues of life. Increasing patience is viewed as the work of the Holy Ghost in the Christian who has accepted the gift of salvation. While patience is not one of the traditional biblical three theological virtues nor one of the traditional cardinal virtues, it is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, according to the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians.

In the Christian Bible, patience is referred to in several sections. The Book of Proverbs notes that "through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone" (Proverbs 25:14-16, NIV); Ecclesiastes points out that the "end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride" (Ecclesiastes 7:7-9, NIV); and 1 Thessalonians states that we should "be patient with all. See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good for each other and for all" (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15, NAB). In the Epistle of James, the Bible urges Christians to be patient, and " see how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,...until it receives the early and the late rains." (James 5:7-11, NAB). In Galatians, patience is listed as part of the "fruit of the Spirit": "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law". (Galatians 5:21-23, NIV). In Timothy, the Bible states that "Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life".(1 Timothy 1:15-17, NIV).


Patience with steadfast belief in Allah is called sabr (Arabic: صْبِرْ ṣabr‎), one of the best virtues of life in Islam. Through sabr, a Muslim believes that an individual can grow closer to God and thus attain true peace. It is also stressed in Islam, that Allah is with those who are patient, more specifically during calamity and suffering. Several verses in Quran urge Muslims to seek Allah's help when faced with fear and loss, with patient prayers and perseverance for Allah. For example:[9]

Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere; who say, when afflicted with calamity: "To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return".
—Quran, [2:155–156]
It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but righteousness is this that one should believe in Allah and the last day and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and give away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for (the emancipation of) the captives, and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate; and the performers of their promise when they make a promise, and the patient in distress and affliction and in time of conflicts-- these are they who are true (to themselves) and these are they who guard (against evil). O ye who believe! Retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the murdered; the freeman for the freeman, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. And for him who is forgiven somewhat by his (injured) brother, prosecution according to usage and payment unto him in kindness. This is an alleviation and a mercy from your Lord. He who transgresseth after this will have a painful doom.
—Quran, [2:177–178]

Similarly, patience is mentioned in hadith Sahih Bukhari:

Narrated Aisha: I asked Allah’s Apostle about the plague. He said, “That was a means of torture which Allah used to send upon whomsoever He wished, but He made it a source of mercy for the believers, for anyone who is residing in a town in which this disease is present, and remains there and does not leave that town, but has patience and hopes for Allah’s reward, and knows that nothing will befall him except what Allah has written for him, then he will get such reward as that of a martyr.”
Sahih al-Bukhari, 8:77:616

In Islamic tradition, Job (Ayyoob) illustrates a story where he demonstrated patience and steadfast belief in Allah. Ibn Kathir narrates the story in the following manner: Job was a very rich person with much land, and many animals and children — all of which were lost and soon he was struck with disease as a test from Allah. He remained steadfast and patient in his prayers to Allah, so Allah eventually relieved him of the disease, gave him double the money he lost, and raised to life twice the number of children who had died before him.[10]


In Buddhism, patience (Skt.: kshanti; Pali: khanti) is one of the "perfections" (paramitas) that a bodhisattva trains in and practices to realize perfect enlightenment (bodhi). The Buddhist concept of patience is distinct from the English definition of the word. In Buddhism, patience refers to not returning harm, rather than merely enduring a difficult situation. It is the ability to control one's emotions even when being criticized or attacked.[11] In verse 184 of the Dhammapada it is said that 'enduring patience is the highest austerity'.[12]


Patience and forbearance is considered an essential virtue in Hinduism.[13][14] In ancient literature of Hinduism, the concept of patience is referred to with the word pariksaha (patience and forbearance, Sanskrit: परिषहा),[15][16] and several other words such as sahiṣṇutā (patient toleration, Sanskrit: सहिष्णुता),[17] titiksha (forbearance, Sanskrit: तितिक्षा),[18][19] sah or sahanshilata (suffer with patience, Sanskrit: सह, सहनशीलता)[20][21] and several others.

Patience, in Hindu philosophy, is the cheerful endurance of trying conditions and the consequence of one's action and deeds (karma).[22] It is also the capacity to wait, endure opposites - such as pain and pleasure, cold and heat, sorrows and joys - calmly, without anxiety, and without a desire to seek revenge.[23][24] In interpersonal relationships, virtuous titiksha means that if someone attacks or insults without cause, one must endure it without feeling enmity, anger, resentment or anxiety.[25] The concept of patience is explained as being more than trust, and as a value that reflects the state of one's body and mind.[26] The term pariksaha is sometimes also translated as test or exam, in other contexts. Some of these concepts have been carried into the spiritual understanding of yoga. Sandilya Upanishad of Hinduism identifies ten sources of patience and forbearances: Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Daya, Arjava,Kshama, Dhriti, Mitahara and Saucha. In each of these ten forbearances, the virtuous implicit belief is that our current spirit and the future for everyone, including oneself, will be stronger if these forbearances are one's guide. Each source of those ten pariksaha (patience and forbearances) are:[27][28]

  • Ahimsa (non-violence) is not being violent to any human being and any living being at any time through one's action, with words one speaks or writes, or in one's thoughts.[26]
  • Satya is expressing and acting with truth.
  • Asteya is not coveting of another’s property through any act of one’s mind, speech, or body.
  • Brahmacharya is willingness to remain a bachelor by one's actions of mind, speech or body.
  • Daya is unconditional kindness to everyone and all creatures.
  • Arjava is the refusal to deceive or wrong others either by the performance or by non-performance of actions of one's mind, speech or body.
  • Kshama is acceptance of suffering while forgiving all pleasant or unpleasant things, such as praise or blow by others.
  • Dhriti is the will to remain of calm mind and spirit during periods of gain or loss of wealth or relatives.
  • Mitahara is moderation and restraint in consumption of food, drinks and wealth.
  • Saucha is the cleansing of the body by earth and water; and of the mind by the pursuit of understanding oneself.

The classical literature of Hinduism exists in many Indian languages. For example, [29][30][31]

Philosophical perspectives

In Human, All Too Human, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche argued that "being able to wait is so hard that the greatest poets did not disdain to make the inability to wait the theme of their poetry." He notes that "Passion will not wait", and gives the example of cases of duels, in which the "advising friends have to determine whether the parties involved might be able to wait a while longer. If they cannot, then a duel is reasonable [because] wait would be to continue suffering the horrible torture of offended honor...".

See also


  1. ^ USA. "The ecology and evolution of patience in two New World monkeys". Retrieved 2012-08-30. 
  2. ^ "Video Stream Quality Impacts Viewer Behavior, by Krishnan and Sitaraman, ACM Internet Measurement Conference, Nov 2012.". 
  3. ^ "Video Stream Quality Impacts Viewer Behavior, by Krishnan and Sitaraman, ACM Internet Measurement Conference, Nov 2012.". 
  4. ^ "CNN: Online viewers ditch slow-loading video after 2 seconds, November 2012". Retrieved 2014-07-03. 
  5. ^ "NPR Morning Edition: In Video-Streaming Rat Race, Fast is Never Fast Enough, October 2012". Retrieved 2014-07-03. 
  6. ^ "Boston Globe: Instant gratification is making us perpetually impatient, Feb 2013". Retrieved 2014-07-03. 
  7. ^ "Patience is a Network Effect, by Nicholas Carr, Nov 2012". 
  8. ^ Firestone, Reuven. "Patience". Retrieved 2008-06-12. 
  9. ^ see also: [Quran 3:195–200], [Quran 41:24–35], and [Quran 11:114–115]
  10. ^ Ibn Kathir. Stories of the Prophet. Dar Al-Manarah. pp. 157–160.  
  11. ^ "Alexander Berzin, The Ten Far-Reaching Attitudes in Theravada, Mahayana, and Bon, 1995". 2012-06-08. Retrieved 2012-08-30. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ See virtues discussed under article on Sanatana Dharma Encyclopedia Britannica (2009)
  14. ^ Madigan, T. (2009), Schopenhauer’s compassionate morality, Philosophy Now, 52, 16-17
  15. ^ see PariSahA, Sanskrit Dictionary, Germany
  16. ^ Search for sanskrit word pariSahA Monier Williams Translation of Sanskrit Concepts, University of Koln, Germany
  17. ^ Sanskrit words related to "Patience" in Sanskrit Dictionary, Germany See also Monier Williams Translation of Sanskrit Concepts
  18. ^ Hunter, A. (2007), Forgiveness: Hindu and Western Perspectives, Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies, 20(1), 11
  19. ^ Titiksha Sanskrit Dictionary, Germany
  20. ^ Sahanshilata Sanskrit Dictionary, Germany
  21. ^ see entry for SAH 3rd column, Page 343, Macdonell Sanskrit Dictionary
  22. ^ Shankaracharya's Vedānta Ernest Wood, ISBN 978-1425482596, see Chapter 4, under GNYANA-YOGA, pp 73-74
  23. ^ R.S. Nathan (2000), Hinduism that is Sanatana Dharma, ISBN 81-7597-065-0
  24. ^ Tattvabhushan, S. (1898), Sankvracharya (His life and teaching: a translation of Atma-Bodha), 2nd Edition, The Society for the Resuscitation of Indian Literature
  25. ^ Hunter, A. and Rigby, A. (2009), Gandhi and the virtue of forgiveness, Gandhi Marg 30 (4), see page 430
  26. ^ a b Kaneda, T. (2008). Shanti, peacefulness of mind. C. Eppert & H. Wang (Eds.), Cross cultural studies in curriculum: Eastern thought, educational insights, pages 171-192, ISBN 978-0805856736, Taylor & Francis
  27. ^ Swami, P. (2000). Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Upaniṣads: SZ (Vol. 3). Sarup & Sons; see pages 630-631
  28. ^ Ballantyne, J. R., & Yogīndra, S. (1850). A Lecture on the Vedánta: Embracing the Text of the Vedánta-sára. Presbyterian mission press.
  29. ^ Tirukkuṛaḷ Translated by Rev G.U. Pope, Rev W.H. Drew, Rev John Lazarus, and Mr F W Ellis (1886), WH Allen & Company; see section 1.2.12; pages 19-20
  30. ^ Tirukkuṛaḷ see Chapter 16, Book 1
  31. ^ Tirukkuṛaḷ Translated by V.V.R. Aiyar, Tirupparaithurai : Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam (1998)
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