Thursday, March 31, 2011

Understanding Wins the Day, Patience is Just Its Runner Up

The Definition

As defined in an online dictionary, to "understand" is "to accept tolerantly or sympathetically".  Allow me to rephrase this definition using the other term for "sympathy" which is "compassion".  Therefore, to understand is to accept with compassion.  That is the definition I wish to use throughout this article.

One of the definitions of "patience" is "bearing or enduring pain, difficulty, provocation, or annoyance with calmness", and again, let me stretch this definition out by adding that "patience is bearing difficulty or provocation with calmness without necessarily understanding the circumstances".  And let me be bold by saying, that is the definition of artificial patience and I will explain why I called it such in a little while.
The Difference

Can a person be patient without understanding?  Yes, but can a person understand and not be patient?  Nope.  If you understand someone or the circumstances, it is imperative that you are patient about it.  So true patience can be likened to a branch, if understanding is the tree, where love is its roots.  If that's where true patience stems from, then what is artificial patience?  It's when you act calm in the outside, but you're still full of resentment and anger inside.  It's when you catch yourself saying, "I'm being patient about this but I absolutely don't understand why he/she did this!"  

The Challenge

Which is more difficult to do, artificial patience or true patience?  Both can be equally difficult because artificial patience takes a long time (even years) to master - being calm despite of provocations just for the sake of being calm.  It’s like calmness without any reason why you have to be calm that’s why it’s difficult to do.  In the case of true patience, it is difficult because you have to master understanding first before being truly patient and that is a lifelong task.  So maybe the question is, which is more difficult, to be patient (just be calm without understanding) or to be understanding?  And the answer would be simple, the latter is more difficult, but it is more rewarding.  You can train your body and mind to be calm and not react at all to provocations or annoyances, but you can’t train your brain to understand, because understanding is beyond a practice of the body or the mind, but also an action of the heart as it involves compassion.  Saying that, understanding not only rewards your nerves - saves you from a lot of stress - but also rewards your heart equally.  Understanding that people have their own circumstances (problems of their own, reasons for doing things, a point of view that has been engraved since childhood) gives you true calmness everyday even if people give you a certain attitude at work, if other drivers try to bully you on the road even if you're in the right lane doing the right thing, or if a certain crew doesn't serve you with a smile when you dine in a restaurant.  To understand people and circumstances beyond how people present themselves or beyond how situations appear to be, gives your whole being a certain energy that drives you to be more positive in life and in dealing with others.  In return, people see this glow in your smile and notice the spring in your steps and your positive energy rub off other people.  To put it simply, which is better to hear from someone:  “Pinagpapasensyahan kita” or “Naiitindihan kita”?  Roughly translates to “I’m being patient with you” or “I understand you”.

My Personal Experience/Struggle

I have been trying to master understanding, but I admit, I catch myself sometimes engaging over trivial emotions like anger and often the quick solution is to simply shut up and try to be patient, only to find myself ranting about a certain person or experience later that day (or even years after).  Artificial patience does that, keep you calm for a moment and then when you do remember the situation, you get all worked up about it again.  It just works you up and wears you down at a certain point and that’s when it hits me that I failed to understand that there are certain circumstances that make people do the things they do or make them act the way they do.

Understanding them means they're right?

Wait up… does that mean that understanding people’s circumstances, is also accepting that what they do is right or justifiable?  Certainly not.  Understanding just reminds you to be compassionate and to accept that there are reasons behind actions, but doesn’t mean that the actions or even the reason for them are correct.  If you are willing, if you care enough, then you can teach them or make them realize what they have been doing by tell them how their actions affect you, and ask where that kind of behavior is coming from.  This takes guts and a whole lot of love.    In a sense, it is also a sacrifice because understanding people sometimes requires you to put the well being of another person, ahead of your own.  It’s like, if someone is throwing stones at you, you try to understand that there are forces that have driven that person to throw stones at you (perhaps one of the reason is you even).  Accepting that, you talk to him and ask why he’s throwing stones at you, and tell him that what he’s doing is hurting you.  It’s possible that the person would open up to you about his problems at work, at school, at home, or something that you do that ticks him off because it reminds him of something in his past, or perhaps just having a bad day.  This scenario probably reads like something from the Bible, but that’s really what we should all be aiming for.  Any less than that is just a compromise, like submitting a special project paper because you failed in your subject.  Well, in these times, I guess, practicing patience even without understanding is reason to celebrate.  If everyone does that then we’ll save ourselves from new headlines of brawls breaking out in after parties, or from someone shooting another person because of traffic disputes, and from saying really rude things to people out of anger.  But understanding brings it up to a whole new level.  If everyone would be a tad more understanding even to people they don’t know, I reckon that the suicide rate, as it stands now, would plunge, misunderstandings would be avoided, and marriages would be saved, the world, yes here it comes, would be a better place to live in.


To understand means to accept sympathetically or with compassion.  This is the definition I used in this article and in my daily adventure, called life.  Understanding wins the day, patience is just its runner up, either one of them is acceptable, but understanding is more preferred.  I hope everyone one wakes up each day with a renewed energy to consciously try to be more understanding today than yesterday.


Understanding is the 2nd gift of the Holy Spirit... ^_^


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