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Patience, engraving by Hans Sebald Beham, 1540

Patience (or forbearance) is the ability to endure difficult circumstances. Patience may involve perseverance in the face of delay; tolerance of provocation without responding with disrespect or anger;[1][verification needed] forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties; or being able to wait for a long time without getting irritated or bored. Patience is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast. Antonyms include impatience, hastiness, and impetuousness.

Scientific perspectives[edit]

In 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, versus a more valuable reward in the long-term.[2]

In a 2005 study common marmosets and cottontop tamarins 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.[3]

Patience in waiting for a video to start is impacted by the Internet speeds that one is accustomed to.[4] Users accustomed to faster Internet connectivity (e.g., fiber) abandon a slow-loading video at a faster rate than users with slower Internet connectivity (e.g., cable or mobile).

Patience of human users in the online world has been a subject of research. In a 2012 study[4] of tens of millions of users who watched videos on the Internet, Krishnan and Sitaraman showed that users lose patience in as little as two seconds while waiting for their chosen video to start playing.[5] Users who connect to the Internet at faster speeds are less patient than their counterparts at slower speeds, demonstrating a link between the human expectation of speed and human patience. These and other studies of patience led commentators to conclude that the rapid pace of technology is rewiring humans to be less patient.[6]

Religious perspectives[edit]

Three virtues by Jan Saenredam after Hendrik Goltzius. This is plate 2, entitled 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.[7]

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); "An ill-tempered man stirs up strife, but a patient man allays discord." (Proverbs 15:18); and "A patient man is better than a warrior, and he who rules his temper, than he who takes a city." (Proverbs 16:32). Patience 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).


In the Christian religion, patience is one of the most valuable virtues.[8][verification needed] The Holy Ghost increases patience 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.[9] Patience was included in later formulations of the seven virtues.

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).[10]


Patience with steadfast belief in Allah is called sabr (Arabic: صَبْرٌ ṣabr), one of the best[how?] virtues in Islam. Through sabr, a Muslim believes that an individual can grow closer to God and thus attain true peace. Islam stresses 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:[11]

We will certainly test you with a touch of fear and famine and loss of property, life, and crops. Give good news to those who patiently endure— who, when faced with a disaster, say, “Surely to Allah we belong and to Him we will ˹all˺ return.”

Similarly, patience is mentioned in hadith Sahih Bukhari:

Narrated Aisha: I asked Allah's rasūl 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."

In Islamic tradition, Job (Arabic: أيوب, romanized: Ayyūb) demonstrated patience and steadfast belief in Allah. Ibn Kathir narrates the story in this 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.[12]


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.[13] Verse 184 of the Dhammapada says "enduring patience is the highest austerity".[14]

Tibetan Buddhist Thubten Zopa recommended that people train in forbearance by taking advantage of encounters with difficult people:

Ask yourself, "Where did I learn this patience that I practice? I learned it from those who have been angry at me... Therefore, all the peace and happiness that I enjoy in this and future lives as a result of my practice of patience has come from the angry person... How kind this person is! How much benefit this person has given me!"[15]


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

Patience, in Hindu philosophy, is the cheerful endurance of trying conditions and the consequence of one's action and deeds (karma).[21] It is also the capacity to wait, to endure opposites—such as pain and pleasure, cold and heat, sorrows and joys—calmly, without anxiety, and without a desire to seek revenge.[22] 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.[23] Patience is explained as being more than trust, as a value that reflects the state of one's body and mind.[24] 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 forbearance. 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[clarification needed] if these forbearances are one's guide. The ten pariksaha are:[25]

Ahimsa (non-violence) not being violent to any human being or any living being at any time either through one's action, with words one speaks or writes, or in one's thoughts[24]
Satya expressing and acting with truth
Asteya not coveting of another's property through any act of one's mind, speech, or body
Brahmacharya willingness to remain a bachelor by one's actions of mind, speech, or body
Daya unconditional kindness to everyone and all creatures
Arjava 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 acceptance of suffering while forgiving all pleasant or unpleasant things, such as praise or blows from others
Dhriti the will to remain of calm mind and spirit during periods of gain or loss of wealth or relatives
Mitahara moderation and restraint in consumption of food, drinks, and wealth
Saucha 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, Tirukkuṛaḷ written between 200 BCE and 400 CE, and sometimes called the Tamil Veda, is one of the most cherished classics on Hinduism written in a South Indian language. It too discusses patience and forbearance, dedicating Chapter 16 of Book 1 to that topic. Tirukkuṛaḷ suggests patience is necessary for an ethical life and for one's long term happiness, even if patience is sometimes difficult in the short term. Excerpts from this book include: "our conduct must always foster forbearance"; "one must patiently endure rude remarks, because it delivers us to purity"; "if we are unjustly wronged by others, it is best to conquer our hurt with patience, accept suffering, and refrain from unrighteous retaliation"; "it is good to patiently endure injuries done to you, but to forget them is even better"; "just as the Earth bears those who dig into her, one must with patience bear with those who despise us", and so on.[26]

Meher Baba[edit]

The spiritual teacher Meher Baba stated that "[O]ne of the first requirements of the [spiritual] aspirant is that he should combine unfailing enthusiasm with unyielding patience.... Spiritual effort demands not only physical endurance and courage, but also unshrinking forbearance and unassailable moral courage."[27]

Philosophical perspectives[edit]

Levius fit patientia, quicquid corrigere est nefas

(What cannot be quite cured, is made easier by patience)

— Horace, Odes I.24 ("To Virgil on the Death of Quintilius")

In his 1878 book 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]... to wait would be to continue suffering the horrible torture of offended honor...".[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Perison, Abel Lawrence (1830). Address on Temperance, Delivered in the South Meeting House, Salem, January 14, 1830. Boston: Perkins & Marvin. p. 31.
  2. ^ Al-Ubaydli, Omar; Jones, Garett; Weel, Jaap (2013). "Patience, cognitive skill, and coordination in the repeated stag hunt" (PDF). Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics. 6 (2): 71–96. doi:10.1037/npe0000005. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-07-22.
  3. ^ Stevens, J.R.; Hallinan, E.V.; Hauser, M. D. (2005). "The ecology and evolution of patience in two New World monkeys" (PDF). Biology Letters. 1 (2): 223–226. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2004.0285. PMC 1626214. PMID 17148172. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-11-04. Retrieved 2018-11-04.
  4. ^ a b Krishnan, S. Shunmuga; Sitaraman, Ramesh K. (November 2012). "Video Stream Quality Impacts Viewer Behavior" (PDF). ACM Internet Measurement Conference. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-11-13.
  5. ^ Sutter, John D. (12 November 2012). "Online viewers ditch slow-loading video after 2 seconds". CNN. Archived from the original on 2018-06-12. Retrieved 2014-07-03.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Firestone, Reuven (2002). "Patience". Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion. Archived from the original on January 17, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-12.
  8. ^ Ford, Thomas (1811), The Dignity and Duty of Magistrates. A Sermon [on Job xxix. 14–17] Preached... at the Assizes... in St. Martin Church, Leicester, August 8, 1811, The High-Sheriff and the Grand Jury, p. 8
  9. ^ Harned, David Baily (1997). "The Patience of God". Patience: How We Wait Upon the World. Boston, Mass.: Cowley Publications. ISBN 978-1-56101-147-6.
  10. ^ Hein, David; Harned, David Baily (2015). "Leadership and Unnatural Virtues: George Washington and the Patience of Power". Patience: How We Wait Upon the World. Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock.
  11. ^ see also: Quran 3:195-200, 41:24-35, and 11:114-115
  12. ^ Ibn Kathir (January 2014). "Prophet Job (Ayoub)". Stories of the Prophets. دار المنارة،. pp. 157–160. ISBN 978-977-6005-17-4. Retrieved 2016-09-24.
  13. ^ Berzin, Alexander (2012-06-08). "The Ten Perfections in Theravada, Mahayana and Bon". StudyBuddhism.com. Archived from the original on 2016-06-29. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  14. ^ "Buddhavagga: The Buddha". Dhammapada. Translated by Buddharakkhita, Acharya. Buddhist Publication Society. 1985. 184. Archived from the original on 2015-02-19. Retrieved 2014-12-24.
  15. ^ Thubten Zopa (1998). Virtue and Reality. Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. p. 54. ISBN 1891868020.
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Sanskrit words related to "Patience" in Sanskrit Dictionary, Germany". Archived from the original on 2013-11-02. See also Monier Williams Translation of Sanskrit Concepts.
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Wood, Ernest. "Shankaracharya's Gnyana-Yoga". Great Systems of Yoga. pp. 73–74. ISBN 978-1425482596. Archived from the original on 2013-10-31.
  22. ^
  23. ^ Hunter, A.; Rigby, A. (2009). "Gandhi and the virtue of forgiveness" (PDF). Gandhi Marg. 30 (4): 430. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-03.
  24. ^ a b Kaneda, Takuya (2008). "Shanti, peacefulness of mind". In Eppert, C.; Wang, H. (eds.). Cross cultural studies in curriculum: Eastern thought, educational insights. Taylor & Francis. pp. 171–192. ISBN 978-0805856736.
  25. ^
  26. ^
    • Tirukkural (PDF). Translated by Pope, G.U.; Drew, W.H.; Lazarus, John; Ellis, F.W. WH Allen & Company. 1886. pp. 19–20. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2020-11-22.
    • Tirukkuṛaḷ. Translated by Aiyar, V.V.R. Tirupparaithurai: Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam. 1998. OCLC 777453934.
  27. ^ Baba, Meher (1967). Discourses. Vol. 3. San Francisco: Sufism Reoriented. pp. 118–119. ISBN 978-1880619094.