Patience and Silence: Virtues of Wise People
Confucius said that one who has no patience with life’s small problems will be paralyzed and unable to act when they are confronted with great difficulty.
Patience is a virtue that not everyone knows how to manage or cultivate.
Silence is another healthy capacity that goes hand in hand with patience—to know when to be quiet, able to listen to others, and in turn to find a place where you can communicate with yourself in the calm of your internal environment.
But staying silent doesn’t mean to sabotage yourself, nor does it mean to conceal your opinions out of fear of the consequences. It means to be silent about things that aren’t worth complaining about, and to be quiet when your emotions speak.
Both patience and silence are two key virtues of wise people, crucial in your personal development. We invite you to reflect on them as essential aspects of your daily life.
Patience and silence: a virtue of wise people
It could be said that patience and silence are two sides of the same coin—a wise and ancient coin.
An example of this comes from Native American culture, which the writer Kent Nerburn has conveyed through books like “Not Wolf Nor Dog: The Forgotten Trails of an Old Indian.”
In all of his works, the importance of concepts like patience and silence for these people is clear. Here are some examples.
Native Americans and silence
The Lakota belong to the Sioux tribe of North America. They are wise people with a rich, deep spirituality, one so striking that even now it continues to teach us great things.
The Lakota believed in a link with the invisible, with the entity that symbolizes the union with other people, friends, family members, and loved ones.
- That link is established through respect and, above all, silence. It’s the most respectful interaction between two people, where silence is not only to listen, but a gift which with to share time and trust.
- If you think about it, you’ll realize that often when you’re with someone and silence appears, you feel discomfort. To avoid this you may say the first thing that comes to mind.
- You need to change this attitude.
- There’s nothing more magical than a group of friends who feel comfortable when silence falls. There is no obligation to speak, only to “be present,” to be united by the invisible bond that the Lakota spoke of.
- For Native Americans, silence is a virtue through which they are aware of everything that surrounds them and roots them to the earth, to nature, other people, the cycle of life, and even themselves… their thoughts.
These are aspects to explore deeply and reflect upon.
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Patience, an art that can’t be taught, but can be learned
Almost no one teaches you that when you come into this world, things don’t always happen the way you want them to. Nor can anyone assure that no matter how much you dedicate yourself to something, it will happen or you’ll get what you hope for.
They say that patience is “holy,” but really it’s an art that’s acquired over time, based on disappointments or the understanding that life will teach you strength—not books or a teacher.
Being patient requires above all that you don’t give up, ever. If something doesn’t happen the way you want it to, don’t abandon your goals, because patience is also calm and confident.
- Patient people know how to observe, to think in silence, to attend to their surroundings, and to develop the intuition to find the best opportunity to act.
- Those who are not capable of avoiding the noise from the outside, the negative thoughts or opinions of others and themselves, will never reach their goals.
- This is because patience requires that you also have the wisdom to know what to avoid and which paths to follow.
If you have a dream, you can’t let others ruin your path with their fatalism or phrases like “stop thinking that way because your train has already left the station.”
Patient and wise people are at the best platform of their life. They will always catch the best train, even if it’s late, even if it’s delayed.
All of this is worth the wait because as you wait, you develop other skills: perseverance, courage, resilience, and above all…hope.