Is Patience Really A Virtue?

Almost every philosopher, every iconic person, every self help guru, and even your friends and family will say “patience is a virtue”.

But is there any truth to it? The oxford dictionary defines virtue as –

  1. Behavior showing high moral standards. 
  2. A quality considered morally good or desirable in a person.

So does that mean being patient makes you a good person with a desirable quality? If that’s the case, is patience really a virtue?

And If you believe patience is a virtue, what experiences have you had that prove it?


The origin of the quote – “patience is a virtue”

The saying – “patience is a virtue” comes from the poem called Piers Plowman, created in 1360 – 1387. The original author of the quote is William Langland.

Patience may have been a virtue back in the 14th century, when there was no smartphones, internet, planes, email and so on. But not so much today.

I’d even go as far to say that patience was never a virtue. At least not by its self (like a lot of people believe).


Why patience is NOT a virtue

It’s true that patience can pay off, but the whole interpretation behind the saying is false.

Most people interpret the “patience is a virtue” quote as the longer you wait, the luckier you’ll get. But waiting doesn’t get you anything. It just gets you more waiting.

And some of us interpret the “patience is a virtue” quote as – “good things come to those who wait”.

But good things NEVER come to those who wait. Good things come to those who take action, commit, put in the work, persist, and persevere.

  • Have you ever met somebody who wants to start a business, but they never get around to it?
  • Have you ever met someone who applies for a job, then WAITS patiently for a response?
  • Have you ever met someone who’s said something like – “I’ll just wait around and be patient, no sense in rushing”?
  • Have you ever met someone who’s waited around for months for an opportunity to come to them, instead of them creating the opportunity themselves?


In all 4 of these scenarios, the person is playing the waiting game. They’re being patient, sitting still, and expecting something to happen or fall on their lap.

That’s not how the world works. Nothing comes to you if you’re waiting for it. Nope. You have to get off your ass, move, and go and get it for yourself.

  • Instead of waiting for one employer to get back to you, why don’t you get back to them?
  • Instead of waiting for “God” to answer your prayers, why not put in the work to make your prayers a reality?
  • Instead of playing the lottery and “waiting” to get rich, why not learn HOW to create riches for yourself?
  • Instead of waiting to be paid by your employer, why not learn how to pay yourself?
  • Instead of waiting for readers to find your new “blog”, why not seek them out yourself?


If you play the patient game without taking any action, (like many people do), how can you expect any real results?

You can only be so patient to see how things will work out. But don’t get caught in the trap of “waiting” because no good will come of it.


Why people believe patience is a virtue

Too many of us –

  • Hope good things will happen to us.
  • Hope things will work out.
  • Hope we’ll be successful.
  • Hope things will get better.
  • Hope we’ll get the job.
  • Hope the girl or guy we like feels the same way about us.
  • Hope we’ll get a degree and pass our exams with flying colors.

That’s why people believe patience is a virtue. We’re too focused on hoping things will turn out the way we want them to.

When you’re stuck in hope, you’re waiting and expecting a certain result. But If getting that result takes hard work, persistence, and dedication, hope and patience isn’t enough.

There’s no virtue in waiting around and hoping for something to happen.

Just because your favorite “self help guru” says patience is a virtue, doesn’t mean you should buy into it without looking at it logically.

If patience is a virtue, action and perseverance is a duty. And that’s something else many so called “gurus” won’t tell you. 


Take action and be committed

People who go from overweight to a balanced weight didn’t buy a skinny pill, and “wait” for the results.

They went to the gym, put in the work, committed and took consistent action for months, THEN they got the results they wanted.

Ambitious people don’t “wait” for the right circumstances to pursue their dreams and goals.

They commit and take action to create the right circumstances to achieve their dreams and goals.


If you’ve been waiting around and being patient for too long without any real actions, it’s time for you to make some changes.


Here’s a breakdown of this post and what you need to do

  1. Commit.
  2. Stop waiting around for something to happen.
  3. Take action, then adjust your actions along the way.
  4. Be productive.
  5. Persist.
  6. Be consistent.
  7. Persevere.


And a perfect quote to finish up this post!

Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin.  Beginning makes the conditions perfect.


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Theo J Ellis

Theo J Ellis

After giving birth to Just Be Real, I've made it my mission to share life lessons and document my experiences along the way. Not to mention inspire others to do the things they believe in without fear of criticism. I'm driven to help people build the self confidence they deserve.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Thank you!!!! So agree and get frustrated with the excuse making that problem should be patient. While demanding instant gratification is the other unacceptable end of the spectrum, I think “patience is a virtue” is just as unacceptable.

    My theory is that the phrase was coined by those who have to keep those who don’t have at bay. To make a virtue out of passively “not having. ” To relieve pressure from those trying to create or insisting on better circumstances.

    Aside from teaching self regulation to children, my experience is it is sadly used where stakes are often higher for those being told to be patient.

    Rushing to action blindly is dangerous but as you note, thoughtful, clear, persistent actions to move forward are the real virtues.


    • Yes! There’s so much truth to what you say, Peter. Especially in regards to instant gratification. The term “patience is a virtue” only makes sense to those who benefit from people believing such a thing. Waiting doesn’t change anything, action does.

      Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts 👍

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