Robert C. Roberts gives me food for thought in his chapter on patience in The Strength of a Christian. I had never really connected happiness and patience before.
Patience is a condition for happiness. Some vices are enjoyable, or at least seem so at the moment you practice them. For example, most people get a delicious pleasure out of invidious gossip. But other vices are just thoroughly unpleasant. Envy, for example, is evil through and through. Someone would have to crazy to go looking for an opportunity to be envious.
Impatience is an unpleasant vice. It is a state of more or less intense frustration: you want to be somewhere other, or doing something other or accomplishing something other, or in the company of someone other, than you are. Some people’s impatience is limited to certain moment, but other people are beset with impatience about large segments and pervasive situations of their life: for example the mother of small children who just can’t wait until they grow up enough to go to school and get out of her hair. These are the ones whose impatience has made them unhappy people, rather than just people with unhappy moments.
By contrast, people who can dwell gladly in the present moment despite some desire, or what would normally be a reason to desire, to depart from it–are not frustrated. Because they exercise patience, this present moment of life is something in which to rejoice and be glad. The impulses to flee are under control, and they experience peace and self-acceptance.
This week at lunch my host said he had a choice when he got up that morning: whether to choose to have a great day or not. I think part of that choice is to decide to be patient, to live in this day, hour, moment with these people and circumstances. God will be in this day; will I be attentive, patient to discover and rejoice in his presence?
How has patience and happiness overlapped for you?