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How much Patience is too much Patience?

Conceptualized by Dr. Anuradha Gagrani

Curated by Pratik Rathod

“Why is patience so important?" "Because it makes us pay attention.” Paulo Coelho

A study was conducted by Paola Giuliano and Paola Sapienza of National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in January 2020 to evaluate and quantify what is 'The cost of being too patient'. They collated date from the 2012 Gallup World Poll and the Global Preference Survey to conclude that there is a moderate amount of patience which maximizes life satisfaction and emotional well-being.

Interesting or Bizzare? Read on!

The duo found that the relation between patience and various measures of subjective well-being is hump-shaped: it exists an optimal amount of patience that maximizes happiness. Beyond this optimal level, higher levels of patience have a negative impact on well-being. Take a look at the illustration below to simplify what they mean.

They key takeaways from this research:

  • Beyond a point, higher levels of patience have a negative impact on well-being,

  • Very high levels of patience are costly, therefore the societal benefits of delaying gratification on average exceeds the cost of being too patient,

  • An excessive tendency to delay gratification can have psychological costs,

  • A moderate amount of patience appears to be associated with a higher level of life satisfaction and emotional well-being.

A classic example: Evidence shows that Asian-American students, a group scoring high in the level of patience, suffer psychological and social costs despite their strong academic success.

So what are the repercussions of having too much patience?

After a significant amount of time has passed without anything positive happening, we tend to become depressed and disappointed, which ultimately leads to complete inaction and apathy. Thus, after a certain limit defined by our own personalities and circumstances, we need to access the situation and act accordingly instead of procrastination.

We’ve been programmed with a default setting of #Patience as a virtue. Not just us, generations before us have been too. The code is just being passed on down. Obviously, patience is an absolute must-have trait for us to survive and thrive, the benefits of which are widely discussed and accepted. I do not deny that one bit, nor am I against the notion of keeping your patience. It is this very virtue that more-often-than-not helps us deal with many things for which only Time is the solution. A normal and natural birth takes 9 months, can you speed up the gestation process to 5 months just because you are running out of patience? Patience, in many, almost all aspects of our life, is the key.

However, I write this article to shed light on the idea - how much patience is too much patience? How will the ideal of patience help you deal with: an abusive partner, an unsupportive family, an ungrateful friend, an opportunist colleague or an overbearing boss? Wouldn’t you reach a point where it gets too much? Wouldn’t we want to draw a line somewhere, where we think/decide that enough is enough? So, you do one thing that will resolve this – ACT.

Patience does not mean tolerance of untoward actions/inactions/words by someone or any situation. Patience and tolerance are minutely inter-twined however they are two very different traits. Use the power of assertiveness and confrontation and do not say yes to everything. This will make sure that your patience will not run out, nor be tested like a volcano which is ready for eruption.

The advantages of #Patience are limitless and information on them is available almost everywhere. Let’s discuss a few disadvantages of being too patient:

  • You miss out on opportunities when mistime them and wait too long thinking that you will act when the right time comes,

  • You are privy to a specific information and hold on to it for too long, while the opportune moment to convey it is lost and the information loses its value,

  • People around you understand your patience and tolerance, and there are ones who do not shy away from capitalizing on it,

  • You don’t realize when patience turns to procrastination

These are all literal instances where you loose for being patient. Let us look at the #psychologicaltrauma of being too patient. A situation where your own guilt engulfs you – that you should’ve done something about a situation, or at that moment, but you were too occupied being patient and giving the other person a benefit of out. After having dealt with that, you spiral into the thought process that why can’t you stand up for yourself, like the world so vividly does.

We conclude with a universal truth - excess of anything is harmful. Staying silent and terming it as Patience, if someone is taking undue advantage or misusing their position, will never help you.

Do you have anything to add/contribute to this? Do not hesitate to leave a comment. We always welcome a productive discussion!


Dr. Anuradha G is a highly experienced and skilled Gynaecologist with varied interests. A truly humble and a people's person, she is committed to follow the path of self-discovery. An ardent follower of Krishna Consciousness, Dr. Anuradha G is pursuing to learn The Bhagwad Gita with a renewed vigour.

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