What is a virtue anyway? Apparently the ideas behind virtues date back to the times of Plato and Aristotle and revolve around examples of exemplary moral behaviour. They are meant to represent inner strength, quality of character and the power to overcome vices. Aristotle believed virtues to be the perfect middle ground between two extreme behaviours: for example courage is the mean between cowardice and foolhardiness, confidence the mean between self-deprecation and vanity, and generosity the mean between miserliness and extravagance. He believed that to be virtuous required common sense rather than intelligence and that virtues were learned through trial, error and practice. So if patience is a virtue, according to Aristotle, it is in fact a learned skill, not something we are expected to be born with.
Todays theme is gratification, how good do you consider yourself to be at waiting for the things you want? (Hence the title, see, see what I did there?) Are you able to play the waiting game, or do you want everything 5 minutes ago? I would have to agree with Aristotle that patience is a learned art (if you don’t agree try negotiating with a hungry infant!) but can it ever be as simple as that? I would say I am far better at being patient now than I was as a child when it comes to certain things but probably less patient when it comes to others. For example these days I don’t mind waiting for things I am looking forward to, such as a fun weekend or holiday, but I know as a child I had no idea why when my parents told me we were going on holiday we did not immediately begin packing. The idea that it was currently January and we weren’t going anywhere till June was…well, weird! When’s June? Is that next week? The week after next week? It’s after my birthday?! Well when’s that? Children have no concept of time so unless something is instant it seems like it’s never going to happen! Psychology would call this deferred gratification.
In other ways though I would say I am far less patient, for example my expectations of people and their behaviour towards me. As a kid you are far more accepting of how people talk to you. It’s normal for parents, teachers and adults to demand respect (in some cases unearnt respect) so you just kind of go along with it. As an adult however you are far more likely to demand respect from others. As a ‘grown up’ I find I am far more impatient with those who do not behave treat me how I treated people when I was younger, i.e. with respect.
So in conclusion, yes I can wait for something I want these days, possibly more so when that thing is out of my control (i.e. an upcoming event) but at the same time my view of the world and the things I want from it has changed. When it comes to those wants, needs and expectations being met I’m not sure I am so good at compromise.
This post is part of the Twitter Blogathon.