Patience. It’s not one of the twenty-four strengths classified in Character Strengths and Virtues, by Christopher Peterson with Martin Seligman. The CSV (or anti DSM-IV), classifies specific strengths under six broad virtues that consistently emerge across history and culture: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence.
Discovering your Values-in-Action (VIA) strengths through VIA survey, sticks out in my mind as one of the key lessons in positive psychology. To increase your engagement (and therefore happiness), gain insight into your individual strengths, and find ways to use these strengths more in your daily life.
I remember a class taught by Chris Peterson in the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program, where we brainstormed the 25th strength, absent from the exhaustive search carried out by the CSV authors. Strengths such as tolerance and compassion were proposed and batted around; to be considered a strength, several criteria must be met, and I’m sure that patience was considered and somehow denied. However, recent events in my life have made me reconsider the virtue of patience, and come to a new appreciation of this under-appreciated but much needed strength.In the CSV, perhaps patience is closest to the strength of “persistence (perseverance, industriousness): finishing what one starts, persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles; ‘getting it out the door’; taking pleasure in completing tasks” (29). But that doesn’t quite capture it. Lately, patience has taken on a spiritual quality to me—an ability to trust that life works out as it should, to surrender to what is at the moment, while having faith in the future. It’s the ability to wait peacefully, when everything in you wants to rush forward, take action, do something.
The concept of surrender has always been tricky to me, difficult to do and to understand. To me, patience is in the service of surrendering. How do you “let go” and still have faith that things will work out how you want them to? Patience. Let me know if you have any thoughts on how to develop patience, or if you have other candidates for the under-appreciated 25th strength!
Peterson, C. & Seligman, M. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification.. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nature set – retrieved with the keyword patience courtesy of Lori Greig